Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni remains in shock over center Dwight Howard’s free agent decision to play for the Houston Rockets. D’Antoni, who has said that Howard refused to accept his role with the Lakers, can’t understand why Dwight left. Per ESPN: “It’s hard for me to sit here and criticize or even to understand why he left a place like L.A.,’ D’Antoni said. ‘That’s kind of mind-boggling a little bit, but that’s in his DNA and what he wants to do.’ [...] ‘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].’ [...] Just how good the Lakers can be will likely hinge on the health of Kobe Bryant, who is still recovering from Achilles surgery he underwent in April. ‘I wouldn’t put anything past him but nobody knows. We’ll just have to wait and see in a month or two. Having said that, Kobe is a competitor and once he is back on the floor — Father Time does march on and things happen — I don’t know if you can say he’s going to average 25 [points], he’s going to average 30, he’s going to average 18, nobody knows, but one thing I do know he’ll give it his all and it will be interesting to see. It will be a heck of a battle, that’s for sure.’ There could also be a bit of a side battle between D’Antoni and Bryant to limit the amount of minutes the 18-year veteran guard will play. Bryant averaged 45.7 minutes in the seven games leading up to his Achilles tear. ‘He’s very determined in what he does and we’ll work together on it, hopefully,’ D’Antoni said. ‘We’ll see. But that will all be determined when we see how he feels and where he is and where he is with the team and all that. We’ll work through those issues and try to do the best that we can for him.’”