Considering the way the Dwight Howard tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers progressed and went down, it’s hard to believe there was anything they could have done to keep him on the team once his contract ran out. But the rumors of Howard’s demands from the board have been floating around, indicating that if the Lakers would have fired Mike D’Antoni and used their amnesty clause on Kobe Bryant, he might have made a different choice than the Houston Rockets.
Howard never seemed happy with the Lakers. Not with his role on the team’s offense; not with his relationship with Kobe Bryant, on and off the court, and by the way he felt Bryant hounded him through the media, and not just their quite contrasting personalities. The losing certainly didn’t help. When free agency came up, most believed it was a lost cause for the Lakers to try and sign Howard, and the unflattering approach and presentation to him, in hindsight, was an absolute mess.
According to Ric Bucher of CSNBayArea, it wasn’t such a lost cause as some might tend to think. Or at least Howard wanted to see how far the Lakers were willing to go in order to prove to him he’s their franchise player. The money was guaranteed, and he would have made more in Los Angeles than anywhere else, but Howard wanted to see the Lakers go to extremes in order to land him.
According to Bucher, Howard wanted the Lakers to fire D’Antoni, which somewhat explains the way D’Antoni has been talking about Howard all summer long in the media, and get rid of Kobe Bryant via an amnesty clause.
You should never put a player above the franchise, especially when he demands to act like a general manager and get rid of a head coach, or axe the player who might be the greatest Lakers player of all time, or at least the most accomplished.
But the Lakers have been putting Bryant above everyone else for a very long time. As long as he was good enough to be the spearhead of a championship team, it was worth it. The moment his salary begins eating up more than 50% of the salary cap while he’s no longer capable of being that kind of player, using the amnesty clause, with all of the emotional pain it might have caused t those too emotionally attached, on Bryant would have been a decent choice.
Getting rid of Howard isn’t a disaster. He still hasn’t shown he’s good enough to lead any group of players to an NBA title. The talented bunch he has around him in Houston might be the best offensive team he’s ever been on, but it remains to be seen if the Rockets made a wise gamble by betting the house on the controversial center.
For the Lakers, they’ve made their decision a long time ago – Kobe Bryant till the bitter end, no matter how much his hold poisons the rest of the team. It might end without him even being able to take them into the playoffs before he becomes a free agent in a very interesting summer, but the Lakers felt they simply couldn’t choose Howard over him.