Dwight Howard ‘excited for D’Antoni’

Dwight Howard is optimistic that the Lakers will continue to improve.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Dwight Howard is looking forward to the arrival of Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni, after days of speculation that the team would hire Phil Jackson.

“I really didn’t know what was going to happen, besides what I heard at the game, ‘We want Phil,’” said Howard, echoing the chants from the fans at Staples Center.

Howard, who had a contentious relationship with former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy has tried to stay politically correct through the Lakers’ journey from Mike Brown to interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff and now to D’Antoni.

“I’m happy with what Bickerstaff has done the last couple of games. I’m excited for D’Antoni,” said Howard. “I think it will be good for us.”

Howard noted D’Antoni’s fast, free style of basketball but he believes the Lakers can be even more of a defensive force.


“You have guys on this team who love to play defense, and he’s an offensive coach. I think we’ll find a balance,” said Howard. “Here, you’ve got myself, Kobe [Bryant], Metta [World Peace], who love to [defend]. The young guys that we have, that’s all they want to do: Put the straps on. I think it’ll be great for us. Run and gun, but we can come down on the other end and play defense.”

Howard remains optimistic that the Lakers, who have won three of their last four games, will continue to improve.

“We’re keeping our hopes very high,” said Howard. “We’re getting better as a team. The young guys are really pushing older guys in practice. Once we’re at full strength and we’re jelling, and the chemistry is there, it’s going to be hard to stop us.”

With the team’s slow start, injuries and coaching change, Howard believes the team’s bond will grow from the adversity.

“We know what we have to do. We know that all eyes are going to be on us,” said Howard. “We just have to stay together and stay strong.”

The Lakers hope to have D’Antoni with the team starting Wednesday.


Mike D’Antoni to be next coach of the Lakers

Lakers need Mike D’Antoni to be the right call

New Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni’s basketball history

You can email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.