Rumor has it that Dwight Howard hasn’t been Mike D’Antoni’s number one fan this year. Naturally, there’s been a lot of chatter surrounding Dwight’s future with the Lakers potentially being dependent on D’Antoni’s status as the head coach of the Lakers. Two weeks ago, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak told the Los Angeles Times that Mike D’Antoni would be back next year. At Lakers exit interviews yesterday, Kupchak reiterated that he stood by the statement he made two weeks ago.
Yesterday, Kupchak was asked whether or not he got the sense that Howard liked D’Antoni. Kupchak revealed that whether or not a player lakes a coach is not of concern to him.
“I think Dwight likes winning and he likes performing at a high level. I think he’s fine with Mike D’Antoni, but I’m not really concerned if a player likes a coach. So I don’t ask that question. Our coaches are evaluated on wins and losses. That’s how we evaluate the team so I’ve never came out and asked a player, ‘Do you like this guy?’ That’s really not relevant to me.”
Kupchak was probed further when a reporter asked what would happen if a potential free agent said he wanted a particular coach or he wouldn’t sign with the organization.
“This organization has a precedent with that kind of a situation and I think we learned our lesson.”
—- Check out Lakers big man Dwight Howard’s player bio here! —-
If coaching is a variable Howard is weighing in his decision to stay with the Lakers organization or go elsewhere, it sounds like D’Antoni is here to stay. When asked about D’Antoni yesterday, Dwight had this to say,
“We have a lot of old guys so it was tough to do a lot of the things that Mike wanted us to do…We had to just sell out to whatever he wanted, whether we liked it or not…We had to do what was going to benefit the team, and being one of the leaders on the team, I had to make sure I kept the guys in line to what the coach wanted us to do.”
D’Antoni has two more guaranteed years left on his contract for a total of $8 million. If Dwight makes the smart business decision to sign with the Lakers, hopefully “selling out” to D’Antoni will produce Lakers exit interviews in June, rather than April.
VIDEO: Did you catch Mitch Kupchak’s amazing response to questions about the amnesty provision?