Mike D’Antoni laughs at Dwight Howard’s Move to Houston

FILE: New York Knicks Head Coach D'Antoni ResignsIt’s safe to declare that Dwight Howard’s lone year in Los Angeles was a pretty big failure. Now this isn’t to say that Howard didn’t produce or do what the Lakers expected. He did after all average 17.1 PPG, 12.4 RPG and 2.4 BPG. But considering his own personal standards and the expectations placed on L.A. last year, failure is the only word that perfectly describes the result.

With the addition of Howard at center, some analysts expected the Lakers to win the 2013 NBA Championship. Instead, L.A. spent the entire year evoking predictions on if they’d make the postseason. Despite Kobe Bryant going down with a Achilles tendon tear, the Lakers did slide into the playoffs with a 45-37 record – good enough for the seventh seed. But they were quickly swept by the San Antonio Spurs.

To make matters worse, Howard was quite unhappy with his lack of low-post touches and head coach Mike D’Antoni’s fast-paced offense. In the end, it all added up to the 9-year veteran leaving for what he deems to be greener pastures in Houston.

The Rockets, who also finished with a 45-37 record, have immediately become a contender with Howard, James Harden and a strong supporting cast. But will everything be as rosy as Howard thinks?

dwight-howardNot according to D’Antoni, who laughed at where his former starting center went via free agency. The Los Angeles Daily News wrote the following about coach D’Antoni’s statement:

“The thing that cracks me up is Houston, they do the exact same thing,” D’Antoni said, laughing. “And so (Howard) is gonna go to Houston? OK, so did they talk about change there? Don’t tell me that it’s that different.”

D’Antoni wishes Howard well, but does think he needs to accept what makes him a special player rather than envision himself as something he isn’t yet and may never be.

“He’s a force and he can be really, really good and dominate the league,” D’Antoni said. “But it’s in an area that he’s not loving right now. He wants to dominate a different way, in the low post and all that. But he needs to get better there, and he will. But his greatness is in defense and being a physical force. I think he’d be better served if he embraces that.

dwight-howardIt appears as if D’Antoni has a point since Houston’s team isn’t exactly built to play a halfcourt game and run the offense through Howard. Instead, they have a number of guys who can run the floor like Harden, Chandler Parsons, Patrick Beverley, Francisco Garcia and Carlos Delfino.

Taking these players into account, Rockets head coach Kevin McHale is going to have his work cut out trying to succeed where D’Antoni failed. It’s not easy trying to transform a fast-break offense into one that can absorb Howard’s talents without wasting them.

But if Houston is truly to become the contender that they want to be next season, they’ll have to find a perfect blend. Perhaps the best place to start would be looking at clips of the Los Angeles Lakers from last year and doing the exact opposite of what they did.

Assuming you’ve got a vested interest in how the Rockets do next year, keep in mind that GTBets.eu has the Rockets at 12:1 odds of winning the 2014 NBA Championship. The Lakers, on the other hand, aren’t looking quite as good in the 2014 NBA futures category. Right now, they’re only being given 45:1 odds of winning the championship next season.

Kobe Bryant not Happy – Lakers continue to struggle

A few weeks ago, we did a piece on if the LA Lakers were a playoff team or not. Our general consensus was that the Lakers were likely to make the playoffs because of the following:

1) Steve Nash wasn’t playing at the time.
2) LA was more talented than other teams chasing playoff spots.
3) The Lakers were only 1 1/2 games behind the West’s eighth seed.
4) Only a quarter of the NBA season had been played.

Well Steve Nash is back, the 2012-2013 NBA is over halfway finished, and LA is now 4 games behind Houston for the eighth seed. Following a 106-93 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies tonight, the Lakers are now eight games below .500. This being said, it’s starting to look questionable as to whether or not this team can really make the postseason.

Not surprisingly, Kobe Bryant isn’t happy about his team’s performance on the season. And Bryant was sounding more like a coach than player when he stated:

We need to go back to basics. We need to put guys in positions to do what they do best. We need to strip it down. Steve is best in pick-and-roll. Pau is best in the post. I’m best from the free-throw line extended down. Let’s go back to basics.

We’ve got to evaluate what’s going on. Management is looking at it. The players are looking at it. I’m looking at myself. I’m shooting a low percentage right now, and I’ve got to look at that. It’s on me to make shots, but I’m having to make tough shots, getting the ball 30 feet from the basket and (expletive) like that.

Besides discussing some of the general things that LA needs to do to change things around, Bryant also talked about Dwight Howard’s discontent on offense. Howard thinks he needs to touch the ball more, as evidenced by his declining scoring average. However, Kobe doesn’t quite agree with this since he said:

I’ve tried to go out of my way to get him the ball. Sometimes I end up looking like an idiot, because I get up in the air, I’ve got a shot, but I try to find him. But he thinks I’m going to shoot, so his back is turned. I’m trying to think about getting him the ball a lot – take care of him as much as I possibly can. It takes me out of rhythm a little bit, but I’m fine with that. If that’s going to help our team, I’m more than willing to do that.

Bryant and Howard aren’t the only two players who are frustrated during the LA Lakers trying times. Pau Gasol seems to have gotten the worst of the deal since he’s been forced to shift from center to power forward because of Howard’s arrival. The end result is that Gasol is shooting a career-low 43.1% from the floor while often playing outside the paint.

Thanks to his struggles, coach Mike D’Antoni replaced Gasol in the starting lineup with Earl Clark. We’re not sure if this is a designed motivational move to get Pau playing better, or D’Antoni truly thinks that Earl is a better fit in the starting lineup. Clark has provided a nice boost off the bench, but Gasol is a four-time All-Star who was part of two championship Lakers teams.

In any case, Bryant, Howard, Gasol and the rest of the Lakers need to find a solution to the team’s struggles sooner than later. If they don’t, this club could be among the NBA’s biggest bust in history….if not the biggest bust.