Stan Van Gundy advised Dwight Howard to leave Lakers for Rockets

Dwight Howard said Stan Van Gundy, his former coach in Orlando, told him that he would be a better fit with Houston's system and coaching staff than the Lakers'.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

It wasn’t much of a surprise when Dwight Howard left the Lakers in July to join the Houston Rockets.

Howard never seemed truly happy as a Laker, and the Rockets were a natural destination.

According to Howard, his former Orlando Magic coach, Stan Van Gundy, was a vital confidant guiding him to leave for Houston.


“I talked to Stan a lot during last season,” Howard told the Houston Chronicle. “During the off-season, we talked and he felt like the system that would fit me best and the coaching staff would be Houston. He said he liked [Kevin McHale]. He likes [Hakeem Olajuwon]. He likes [James Harden] and the fact that this is a young team. It reminds him of the team we had in Orlando, so he felt like this would be a good fit for me.”

Howard was not particularly fond of Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni and the system the team tried to run last season.

Oddly, McHale’s offensive system in Houston is derivative of the D’Antoni style forged with Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns.

The Rockets do have a deeper pool of bright, young players than the Lakers. It will be interesting to see how successful the Lakers are in luring talent over the next couple of years.

Houston may have been a better short-term answer for Howard -- or even long-term.

Meanwhile, the Lakers have moved on with a breath of fresh air. While the franchise would have liked to keep a center like Howard on the floor, it was clear for a long time he just wasn’t happy in Los Angeles.


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