The Dwight Howard free agency hype machine has already taken off with over a month before his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers even expires. ESPN reported that a "source" revealed Howard voiced frustration regarding Mike D'Antoni during his extended exit interview with general manager Mitch Kupchak, but Kupchak has since shot down the report saying D'Antoni was never discussed. Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News interviewed Kupchak, who went into further detail about Howard, D'Antoni, and more.
Medina asked Kupchak how he would "characterize" the relationship between Howard and D'Antoni. Kupchak revealed that he doesn't believe players have to "like" coaches, but simply have to play hard:
"But being around as long I've been around, it doesn't bother me when I hear at some point a player didn't see eye to eye with a coach. Players don't have to like coaches. They just have to play hard. In L.A., our coaches get evaluated on wins and losses and not whether our players like them or don't like them. It doesn't matter."
When asked about the report from ESPN that Howard was frustrated, Kupchak reiterated that D'Antoni was never a discussion with Howard:
"Criticism of a coach did not come up. Our coach did not come up. In terms of the way the season went and our talent, group and players and how they think in general, I would venture to say most of our players felt this was a frustrating season and that they didn't get to show their talents as much as they would have liked to."
The full interview is a worth checking out as Kupchak reveals his thought process regarding Howard, his impending free agency, and why he's "optimistic" that Howard will re-sign with the Lakers.
- Follow this author on Twitter @DrewGarrisonSBN