Los Angeles Lakers Must Ditch Mike D’Antoni If It Means Keeping Dwight Howard

Mike D'Antoni, your chariot to the outskirts of Los Angeles awaits—if Dwight Howard wants it to.

There are no delusions when it comes to the L.A. Lakers. For the sake of winning now and having a superstar to build their future around, they need Howard to re-sign.

To make that happen, the Lakers must do whatever it takes, even if that includes severing all ties with D'Antoni. And according to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com, that may be exactly what it takes:

Howard was one of several Lakers -- Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol being the most noteworthy—to have an extended separate meeting with the GM after his exit interview with both Kupchak and D'Antoni, multiple sources confirmed to ESPNLosAngeles.com.

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 how the center felt marginalized as the coach looked to Bryant and Steve Nash for leadership and suggestions and discounted Howard's voice.

Nothing against D'Antoni—I'm one of his biggest advocates—but if Howard is willing to abandon the Lakers because of him, he has to go.

Now, McMenamin adds that the relationship between the two is not irreparable. "It's not a, 'It's me or Mike,' situation for Dwight," a source told him.

But what if it becomes one? Dwight was deliberate when assessing the job D'Antoni did with the Lakers this season.

"We had to just sell out to whatever he wanted, whether we liked it or not," he said of D'Antoni following his exit interview (via McMenamin).

A mutual understanding doesn't appear to exist between the two, and it can't if Dwight feels D'Antoni is undervaluing him as a leader. If a happy medium cannot be established, the Lakers will be forced to make a decision.

And they'll have to ...

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