T.J. SIMERS

If Jeanie Buss ran the show, could Phil Jackson's return be far behind?

  • Pin It
Lakers

Funny, though, Kupchak said the Lakers can't "bank" on Kobe's future with the team after next year, not knowing what he's going to do when his contract expires. And yet he seems to be banking everything on Howard, while not knowing what Howard will do when his contract expires.

Kupchak, at times teetering between reality and living on another planet, said, "We're all very happy with Mike D'Antoni."

I guess Mitch doesn't spend a lot of time with Pau Gasol.

Phil, meanwhile, has Gasol entering the Hall of Fame one day and told McCallum that the Lakers won two championships with two big guys. And he does not understand why the Lakers haven't done a better job of utilizing Howard and Gasol together.

As for Howard, he said, "…Dwight just doesn't get any touches. They've basically eliminated his assets."

He said Howard must do a better job of not turning the ball over, which "will help him gain the confidence of his teammates and coach, which he does not have now."

I think we know how Howard feels about Phil's possible return.

Phil said he would probably return to Staples Center on April 2 when Shaq's jersey is retired.

In the meantime, the let's-bash-Howard party will continue, a mystery here what he's done to generate such disgust.

The system has allowed him to take advantage of free agency; Kobe did the same thing a few years ago. Kobe refused to say if he was going to return to the Lakers and actually met with Donald Sterling and told him he would be signing with the Clippers.

Before he could do so, he talked to Jerry Buss. And although NBA rules don't allow it to be included in a player's compensation, I remain convinced Kobe was told that he would have an opportunity to become a minority owner of the Lakers a la Magic when he finally stopped shooting.

Howard is also not Howard, not yet a year removed from back surgery and adding a torn labrum to his concerns. Jackson and Kupchak mentioned that, and yet Howard leads the NBA in rebounding.

He smiles too much — everyone in the world smiles too much as far as Kobe is concerned — and so this must mean he's not giving his all.

Whatever the reason for the disgust, he's going to remain with the Lakers this season and one day become a statue in front of Staples, if Kupchak has it right.

And maybe even standing there right beside the likeness of the Lakers' former coach and vice president of basketball operations/director of player personnel who came back to the team to get the very best out of Howard.

t.j.simers@latimes.com
  • Pin It

Local & National Video