Jim Buss obviously didn’t acquiesce Howard’s request — he has wanted to put his own stamp on this organization, not give more power to his sister Jeanie — so the Lakers got swept in the first round and Howard left in free agency for the Rockets. Could this all have gone differently if Los Angeles had hired Jackson rather than Mike D’Antoni?
If Phil Jackson had been more involved with the Lakers or coaching the team, would that have affected your decision?
DH: “Well, I asked to have him as my coach earlier in the year. (pause) The best decision for me was to do what’s best for Dwight. I think this is the best thing for me. This wasn’t a decision about anybody else. I didn’t have anybody pushing me to do anything. This is what Dwight wanted.”
Putting aside Dwight referring to himself in the third person – that was an unfortunate blunder in an otherwise respectable interview you should read in full – it’s nice to see Howard discuss his coaching preferences on the record and with sincerity. The Stan Van Gundy mess in Orlando got ugly, and Howard deserved criticism for how he handled it.
But it appears Howard has grown from that experience.
I don’t think Howard would have returned to Los Angeles solely to play for Jackson, but he might have returned to a team with more cohesion, with a more enjoyable atmosphere, with a better chance of winning next season. Perhaps, Jacksons would have helped mold the Lakers into that team.
But Buss wanted to put his mark on the franchise, so he hired D’Antoni instead. Now with Howard headed to Houston, Buss will have even more of a blank canvass to make his mark.
Stephen A. Smith: ‘Kevin Durant is the one that’s lying’
Stephen A. Smith had the first and last words in his back–and–forth with Kevin Durant, but the ESPN commentator is still going.
Smith actually makes some good points in that video, at least if you can look past the vague threats. He doesn’t need to speak to Durant to report on Durant, and Durant doesn’t necessarily know which of his friends and family talks to Smith.
But Smith is dead wrong about Durant ending this by signing a contract extension. The largest extension Durant could sign is three years, $69,887,423 ($23,295,808 per season). If he waits until the offseason to re-sign, his max contract projects to be five years, $144,536,025 ( $28,907,205 per season). I don’t know whether Durant wants to stay in Oklahoma, but even if he does, an extension is not a real consideration.
Second-rounder Andrew Harrison going to D-League rather than signing with Grizzlies
The Harrison twins, Andrew and Aaron, left Kentucky early for the NBA draft. Andrew was selected No. 44 and went to the Grizzlies in a draft-night trade. Aaron went undrafted and signed with the Hornets.
Now, Andrew has put himself in a seemingly worse position than his brother.
Chris Herrington of the Memphis Commercial Appeal:
As I suggested after draft, looks like Griz going the Josh Huestis route with Andrew Harrison. He'll be a non-roster D-Leaguer this season.
Memphis had to offer Andrew the required tender – a one-year contract, surely unguaranteed at the minimum – to keep his rights. By rejecting that, he’s subjecting himself to a D-League salary of about $30,000.
By comparison, Aaron has a $70,000 guarantee from Charlotte. If he makes the regular-season roster, he’ll get even more.
Plus, if Aaron gets waived, he’ll be an NBA free agent. He can look for a job with any team. Andrew can sign only with the Grizzlies, who probably need to commit their final roster spot to Ryan Hollins for center depth.
I’m sure Andrew was happy to get drafted, and Aaron was probably disappointed he wasn’t. But Andrew, by allowing the Grizzlies to stash him, has reversed their fortunes.