T.J. SIMERS

Mike D'Antoni isn't the one to flip the switch for the Lakers

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He promised Showtime, but who knew he was talking about the opposition? In fact he promised a lot, and has yet to deliver anything.

And what does it say about someone who doesn't learn from his own mistakes? He couldn't find common ground in New York with Carmelo Anthony, and it hurt him. Here he goes again with Gasol.

Depending on whose day it is to be ripped, Kobe is the Lakers' problem, or Gasol, or this week it's Howard.

But isn't the problem the guy who is being paid to get the most out of each one of them?

Yet it's unclear whether he even communicates with them.

If Howard is playing like a dog against Chicago, as it appeared Monday, and pouting because he's not getting the ball, where's D'Antoni?

Why isn't he in Howard's face? Or throwing an arm around him and expressing understanding?

I have spent time with Howard, and there is one thing very obvious about the big guy: He wants to please everyone.

If you are the head coach of the Lakers, isn't it your job to understand that and use it to the Lakers' advantage?

How have we gotten to the ridiculous point in which the question is already being asked about whether the Lakers should trade Howard?

Two bad games in a row, and all of sudden the prevailing opinion around Lakerland is Howard won't be back after the season.

That's nuts.

Howard is still on the mend, and halfway through the season everyone is just guessing.

If this season continues to go awry, a better question might be who would you rather see return? Howard, Gasol or D'Antoni?

The Lakers will owe Mike Brown and D'Antoni a combined $14 million after this season if they elect to hire another coach.

Does Howard return with D'Antoni in command?

If not, does Gasol move to center and play with zest for a coach who has already eviscerated him?

There's no way Howard gets traded before the Feb. 21 deadline.

Why would a team trade for Howard without him first agreeing to extend his contract? And why would he do that with the leverage swinging his way this off-season?

And why would a team trade for a guy who is still trying to overcome back surgery?

The Lakers can't trade Gasol if they believe Howard will leave at the end of the season.

So these are your Lakers this season, and maybe for some time to come. Thus, my text to Jim Buss on Tuesday afternoon: "Time to call Phil?"

I have yet to get a response.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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