Looks like Dwight Howard and his days with Houston Rockets are already numbered after rumors are swirling that his former Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni is strongly being considered to fill in the job for next season.
Sources told ESPN that D’Antoni is getting momentum as the next coach for the Rockets as team owner Leslie Alexander was impressed with his conversation with the 65-year old associate head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers. One source close to the process stated that the Rockets’ search has not yet progressed to that point but did say D’Antoni was indeed gaining steam in the search for a successor to Kevin McHale and interim replacement J.B. Bickerstaff.
With the ongoing developments, Dwight Howard is the most affected since he had a bad relationship with D’Antoni back with the Lakers. Thus, if the Rockets would go on to hire D’Antoni, Howard has no other option but to opt out of his contract and enter free agency per Ken Berger of NBA on CBS report.
“If Houston and D’Antoni reach a deal, assumption in league circles is Dwight Howard’s days in Houston are over. Did not get along in LA,” Berger added.
In an interview with Jackie MacMillian, Howard is still unsure if he will opt out of his remaining $23.2 million contract and would let his agent take care of all the business. However, he hinted that he might listen to other team’s offers since it seems that the Rockets would not listen to anything he has to say.
“I felt like my role was being reduced. I went to (general manager) Daryl (Morey) and said, ‘I want to be more involved.’ Daryl said, ‘No, we don’t want you to be.’ My response was, ‘Why not? Why am I here?’ It was shocking to me that it came from him instead of our coach,” Howard explains.
Howard added that this will be the final season when he will ever get a maximum contract and if he is properly inside the court, he would prove his critics wrong and put in numbers to help his team win games.
“This will be my last chance for a really big contract. If I am utilized the right way, I know what I can do for a team, a city, a franchise. I know my worth, and I will bust my butt this summer to show my worth to everyone,” Howard said.
With D’Antoni clearly as strong candidate for the Rockets as their head coach, Howard will have to weigh things before deciding. But one thing is clear; Howard does not want to relive his Lakers’ experiences with D’Antoni.
Photo Courtesy: Jose Garcia/Flickr