From Elizabeth Benson, Lakers Nation: A few days ago Hall of Famer Charles Barkley questioned whether or not Dwight Howard has the mental toughness to be a franchise player and to play in the pressure-filled city of Los Angeles with the Lakers. While Sir Charles has spoken his mind, unfiltered or not, throughout his playing career and post-NBA career, Dwight’s mental toughness is a legitimate talking point with the Lakers and the fans.Therefore, Lakers Nation decided to tackle this topic in our latest weekly roundtable by asking some of our writers: Does Dwight Howard have the mental toughness to be a franchise player for the Lakers? Here’s what they had to say.
From TheGreatMambino, Silver Screen & Roll: As hot as the criticism got last season on Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, former head coach Mike Brown and VP of Player Personnel Jim Buss, no man was under more scrutiny than Mike D’Antoni. The mustachioed skipper had one of the most polarizing years in LA history, being blamed for a weak defense and ineffective rotations, but simultaneously being given a pass because of the rampant roster injuries. Even armed with 2 years and $8 million left on his contract, there’s still questions as to whether or not MDA would be leading the Lakers in November. Will Mike D’Antoni be the head coach for the beginning for the 2013-2014 season?
From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA: It has been nearly 20 years since Magic Johnson coached the Los Angeles Lakers for 16 games in the 1993-94 season*, but the Hall of Famer’s opinions about his former franchise are as strong as ever. Johnson, an analyst for ESPN appearing on KIA NBA Countdown during the NBA Finals, was on a conference call Wednesday with reporters to discuss the Finals and not surprisingly, the subject of the Lakers came up. Below is a transcript of Johnson’s latest thoughts on the purple and gold:
From Dan Feldman, Pro Basketball Talk: Pau Gasol will probably play for the Lakers next season, but he might get amnestied or traded. There’s still a lot up in the air for Gasol in the short-term, especially while the Lakers figure out what’s next for Dwight Howard. Gasol’s long-term future is even cloudier, but he revealed a little insight into his possible plans. Via ElMundo.es (hat tip: Zach Harper of Eye on Basketball): “I don’t know when, but if one day I could return to FIBA basketball, I’d like to do it with Barcelona as long as I can play at a high level and being central to the team.”
From Eric Pincus, LA Times: Steve Nash’s debut season with the Lakers proved problematic, with the veteran guard missing 32 regular-season games and most of the team’s brief postseason. Nash was out early in the year with a leg fracture. Currently he’s rehabbing hip, hamstring and back issues that limited the 39-year old guard in the Lakers’ first-round loss to the San Antonio Spurs.” By the time the season comes around, I expect to be 100% and in a great position to have a great year,” Nash said on a conference call to announce the 2013 Steve Nash Foundation Showdown. In addition to the sixth annual event in New York, Nash will debut his eight-a-side soccer showdowns in Los Angeles, with proceeds benefitting underserved children in their health and education — with a special focus on early childhood education and child abuse research and prevention. “This is a really special event for me,” said Nash. “I’m able to bring together three of my biggest passions: helping children through my foundation, basketball and soccer.”