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Lakers Coach Still Baffled by Dwight Howard Departure

Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni is still confused over the Dwight Howard’s decision to leave his team for the Houston Rockets.

“It’s hard for me to sit here and criticize or even to understand why he left a place like LA,” D’Antoni told “ESPN L.A. Now” hosts Mark Willard and Mychal Thompson. “That’s kind of mind-boggling a little bit, but that’s in his DNA and what he wants to do.”

With the departure of Howard, D’Antoni knows he lost one of the best centers in the league, but believes other players are capable of filling his shoes.

“Everybody has got to make that decision,” D’Antoni said. “You can debate it all you want. Only Dwight knows. Obviously he didn’t think he would be as happy here as he will be in Houston. That might be the case and he had to make that decision. There will be a lot of speculation. We tried it, it didn’t work out and we go forward. So be it. You hate it, Dwight’s one of the better centers in the league and it would have been a long-term thing, but I looked at it like, ‘OK, you don’t have Dwight, but you got Pau [Gasol].’

“So, we’ll see. In the short run, we’ll see what happens. In the long run, obviously 10 years from now Dwight might still be playing and maybe Pau is retired, but everybody has got to do [what’s best for them].”

Howard signed a four-year, $88 million contract with Houston, leaving a $118- million deal on the table in LA.

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