The two-year, $48.5 million extension Kobe Bryant recently signed remains a controversial subject. Bryant’s former head coach Phil Jackson, had he been in charge of the Los Angeles Lakers’ books, would have offered a smaller deal to the aging superstar. (The Zen Master also had pointed criticism of Dwight Howard’s game.)

Per the LA Daily News:

“They paid him more than I would have gone for,” Jackson said in an interview on NBA TV that aired on Thursday.

“What he’s given to this organization, what he gives back, he brings a certain sense of, ‘We’re going to win!’ ” Jackson said. “You got to have a guy on the team that doesn’t settle for second. That’s one of the areas where the value of Kobe, even at this age, is terrific.” [...]

“There’s a good chance that would have happened,” Jackson said of Howard signing an extension with the Lakers if he was the coach. “Dwight gave up a little bit early on the Lakers, but maybe it wasn’t for him. Maybe he just didn’t find the culture exactly what he needed to benefit and blossom from the game. But it cost the Lakers a lot. It cost them a draft pick.”

The Rockets (31-17) rank fifth in the Western Conference, while Howard has averaged 18.1 points and 12.5 rebounds.

“He’s doing, I’d say, OK,” said Jackson. “I think his game has gone backwards since he was in the ’09 playoffs and championship playoffs that year. His post-up game has not developed and that’s the one thing that I felt he can really advance himself with Kevin McHale as his coach and I just don’t know if that’s happened or not this year.”