Is Dwight Howard frustrated playing with the Los Angeles Lakers because Mike D'Antoni is the head coach? Dave McMenamin of ESPN reports that Howard discussed his "frustration with D'Antoni" during his exit interview with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak:
According to sources with knowledge of the situation, part of the discussion between Howard and Kupchak centered around Howard's frustration with D'Antoni -- particularly how the center felt marginalized as the coach looked to Bryant and Steve Nash for leadership and suggestions and discounted Howard's voice.
D'Antoni is signed with the Lakers for two more years for $8 miilion. The Lakers have not added any coaches to their staff despite losing a handful of assistants since they were eliminated in the playoffs.
If the report is accurate, you can see the leverage Howard has applied to the organization from the middle of the Pacific ocean. While he did not give the front office an ultimatum, he made it clear where he specifically wants change. In the Lakers favor is that his free agency does not begin until July 1, giving them time to sort through the situation. Teams across the league have already begun interviewing, and signing, coaches while the Lakers have not indicated they will be firing D'Antoni, however.
The Lakers did financially benefit from the Cleveland Cavaliers signing Mike Brown, who was still being paid by L.A. after being fired. Will they consider cutting D'Antoni loose as they prepare to make their pitch to Howard this Summer? With news that Howard is "intrigued" by both the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks, and expectations that the Atlanta Hawks will make a run at the big man, the Lakers will have competition for Howard during free agency.
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