The Lakers do not yet know Dwight Howard’s decision for next season, but the All-Star center made his thoughts about L.A Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni known before starting his offseason.
Almost 2 weeks have passed since Howard had his exit interview with the Lakers and there’s been barely a peep out of Howard since.
While he hasn’t had anything to say to the press, Howard had lot to point out to Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak back before the relative silence, however.
Howard was one of one or two Lakers – Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol being the most noteworthy – to have an extended separate meeting with the general manager after his exit interview with both Kupchak and D’Antoni, several sources confirmed.
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 the way the center felt marginalized as the coach looked to Bryant and Steve Nash for leadership and suggestions and discounted Howard’s voice.
Every player was afforded the chance to meet with Kupchak individually after D’Antoni left the room, but few spent as much time as Howard and Kupchak did together. Antawn Jamison also had a separate meeting with Kupchak without D’Antoni present, but that was because of a scheduling conflict.
Kupchak left the meeting with Howard undeterred, telling reporters he was “hopeful” and “optimistic” that Howard would be back with the Lakers next season and beyond, yet there been several developments in the last couple weeks that might have an effect on Howard’s decision.
D’Antoni chose not to keep helper coach Chuck Person, a Howard confidant, on his staff for next season. Also, Lakers assistant coach Steve Clifford, who was with Howard in Orlando for 5 seasons before of them came to L.A last year, has become into a hot head coaching candidate, interviewing with Milwaukee and receiving interest from Charlotte.
One source described the potential departure of Clifford, coupled with the loss of Person as “removing the buffers,” between Howard and D’Antoni, “which is a bad thing.” Basketball scores
Howard has not conducted any interviews since the standard exit interview with the press and is currently on vacation meanwhile as the days tick by on the 6 weeks remaining till free agency officially begins.
Howard can sign a 5-year, $118 million max-level extension to stay in L.A. come July 1. The most he could receive if he were to leave is a 4-year agreement worth $87.6 million.
The $30.4 million more the Lakers can offer over any other competitor is certainly an advantage L.A. Is banking on when it is comes time for Howard to choose, however the economics are not as swayed toward the Lakers as it would seem.
A couple of the teams that will covet Howard’s services the most this summer — the Rockets and Mavericks — are located in Texas, where there is no income tax. Howard would still have to pay tax on road games and other taxes, such as property taxes in Texas tend to be higher than in other states, and the endorsement opportunities in Houston could be less than they are in Los Angeles, yet still, the salary difference does not appear to trouble Howard.