From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA: Dwight Howard knows how all the attention surrounding his exit from the Orlando Magic created a “Dwightmare” situation for everyone involved and he wants to avoid the negative spotlight with his free agency decision looming in Los Angeles. ”I’m not a crybaby,” Howard told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith on SportsCenter on Monday. “I didn’t try to cry my way out of Orlando. That was never my intention, or not what I did at all. And I understand everybody thought it was that way because of what was being put out there. I’m not indecisive. I love this game. You know I play it because it inspires me; it inspires millions of kids around me, adults and all. And, I’m going to have fun while I do it.” Howard becomes a free agent July 1 but wants to live in the present, sticking to his goal of winning the first championship of his nine-year career this season, no matter how unlikely it may seem with the Los Angeles Lakers getting off to a 22-26 start more than three months into the season.
From David Bean, OC Register: The NBA announced Tuesday that Lakers forward Metta World Peace has been suspended one game without pay for grabbing the Detroit Pistons’ Brandon Knight around the neck and striking him in the jaw. The incident happened with 1:43 left int he second quarter of the Lakers’ 98-97 victory against the Pistons on Sunday at The Palace of Auburn Hills. According to the news release, World Peace will serve his suspension Tuesday night when the Lakers visit the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. World Peace was given a flagrant foul 1 on the play, a punishment Knight didn’t feel was severe enough because he said the Lakers forward hit him with a fist.
From Adi Joseph, USA Today: Dwight Howard can’t play, but the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t going to sit there and take it. General manager Mitch Kupchak says the Lakers have filed a complaint with the NBA about hard fouls on Howard, who reinjured his right shoulder during a Jan. 30 loss to the Phoenix Suns. Howard has missed the Lakers’ two games since. ”There’s a protocol to airing opinions or complaints with the NBA. And we’ve done that,” Kupchak told the Los Angeles Times. “The game has evolved and like a lot of other sports where attention is now being given to protect players, the NBA is interested in doing so as well. I don’t know if they will review our concerns, but (hard fouls) have resulted in injury to one of our players.” The move isn’t unprecedented, but it does reveal some concerns. Howard may be the strongest, most physically gifted player in the NBA, but that only allows teams to defend him harder. He’s not quite the immovable force of Shaquille O’Neal, but he similarly deals with overt aggression from defenders.
From T.J. Simers, LA Times: In this mess of a Lakers season, there has remained one crazy, befuddling constant: Mike D’Antoni’s decision to embarrass and then bench Pau Gasol. Good for Earl Clark. But when D’Antoni began his stint as Lakers coach by not playing Gasol in the fourth quarter, replying, “I was thinking I’d like to win this game,” it was a big-time putdown. It seemed like too much, too soon, especially for someone who has meant so much to the Lakers. ”It’s hard to know personalities if you don’t get in touch with them,” said Gasol, his relationship with the Lakers coach now cordial and tension-free but still anchored in disagreement. The coach and player met at a Manhattan Beach restaurant a few weeks back, and most folks were left with the impression they had a meeting of minds. ”It was an effort on our part to try and come to an understanding,” Gasol said. “But I don’t think it’s translated to an understanding. Nothing significant has happened; it’s probably even gone a little backwards.” Jim Buss said recently he was told by D’Antoni that Gasol was a happy camper now because D’Antoni was saving Gasol’s knees and prolonging his career. It was amusing news to Gasol, who played 37 minutes against Minnesota and 40 versus Detroit. ”Never heard that,” he said.
From Ben Golliver, Sports Illustrated: Mitch Kupchak says change will come from within for the Lakers and that a shake-up in advance of the Feb. 21 trade deadline isn’t likely to happen.The Lakers GM told Newsday that All-Star center Dwight Howard will not be traded and that coach Mike D’Antoni is not in trouble despite the team’s sub-.500 record.L.A.’s motivation for moving Howard would come if the Lakers were convinced he would not re-sign next summer, when he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent. His name surfaced as a possible trade piece in January after he expressed some frustration with D’Antoni’s offensive system and his role. The Point Forward suggested at the time that the Lakers were better off playing out the season and taking their chances. Since those reports, Howard said the right things and then re-aggravated a shoulder injury, putting the trade whispers on the back burner.