At some point, the Los Angeles Lakers will realize they made a mistake in hiring head coach Mike D'Antoni. The only thing undecided is whether that epiphany will come sooner or later.
D'Antoni's style is ill-suited for the Lakers roster, and he spent most of last season proving it. Complicating matters further, Dwight Howard's impending free-agency decision might be directly tied to D'Antoni's future in Los Angeles.
And apparently that's not a good thing.
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com, Howard felt marginalized by D'Antoni's faith in veterans Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant. It didn't help the situation when the Lakers let assistant coach Chuck Person go and lost another assistant and Howard confidant, Steve Clifford to the Charlotte Bobcats.
If Howard is not yet completely sold on leaving the sunny shores of California for Texas, his decision could center on the person roaming the sidelines for the Lakers next season. Would the Lakers risk losing the perceived future of their franchise for D'Antoni?
If the answer is no, then a contingency plan must be in place. The Lakers will have to move quickly to find another head coach who has the vision to transform the current roster into an immediate contender and enough credibility to convince Howard to stay.
In case the Lakers need a little help in starting the process, I took the liberty of compiling a list of the top-five coaches who could potentially return the franchise to glory and convince Howard that the center position is important in Los Angeles.