Luckily for the Los Angeles Lakers, Phil Jackson's word is still law in Hollywood.
The Lakers aren't used to being cast aside and coming up empty-handed. That's just not how it works.
Typically, they get what they want. This time they didn't, and as the Zen Master noted on Twitter, Superman has forever left a tainted imprint on those in Lakerland as the result of his departure.
Reflection on DHoward’s exodus. He left a distaste in Lakerland The Lakers will be fine. Pau fits MDA’s style of Off-it was about the future— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) July 7, 2013
Jackson's admittance that Howard left a "distaste" in Los Angeles isn't nearly as important as what follows: He believes the Lakers are going to be fine.
Pau Gasol is indeed a better fit for Mike D'Antoni's system than Dwight ever was. Not that he couldn't have been, but he just never embraced the pick-and-roll aspect of Magic Mike's offense. Pau presents no such issues.
When healthy, Gasol is a premier screen-and-roll option. His ability to knock down shots from the inside out is also something that gives him an advantage over most centers, including Howard.
Which player is the better fit at center for the Lakers?
Per 82games.com, Howard posted a player efficiency rating of 20.9 per 48 minutes at center last season compared to the 22 PER Gasol notched at the 5. Such metrics aren't "case closed, Pau is better" fodder, but they are revealing.
Gasol was in the midst of the worst season of his NBA career, yet he still managed to put up dominant numbers as a center. "Hope" is a word that comes to mind here.
Provided Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash are still healthy and the team finds some shooters, the Lakers can make some noise in the Western Conference. Without Howard. Just as much as the Rockets can. With Howard.
Like Jackson tweeted, Dwight provides power and defense at full strength, but Pau is a better fit for what the Lakers are trying to accomplish.
What DH brings to the game is power and D. This past year didn’t show due it to rehab and confusion. If he is better of an Astro, so be it.— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) July 7, 2013
Phil Jackson—the same ring-wielding coach Howard asked the Lakers to hire back in November—says so, after all. There has to be something to his take. There always is.
If Dwight's better off in Houston, next to the equally ball-dominant James Harden, then so be it. No use losing sleep or one's sanity over the loss of a player who didn't want to be in Los Angeles or a member of the storied Lakers.
Especially one whose absence may not prove as incapacitating as we were led to believe.