For someone who had professed ignorance all along about the situation, Metta World Peace sounded pretty insightful on why Dwight Howard left the Lakers and bolted for the Houston Rockets.
“I always knew Dwight was going to Houston. Things weren’t clicking,” World Peace said recently at Universal Studios where he filmed a segment with the Hallmark Channel’s “Home and Family slated to air today at 10 a.m. “Once Kobe [Bryant] said he could come back for three years, I knew Dwight was going to Houston.”
Why did World Peace think that?
“It’s not clicking,” World Peace said. “Nothing’s clicking.”
A week before free agency started, Bryant told Lakers.com he felt “pretty damn confident” he could play at a high level for “at least another three years.” Bryant’s $30.5 million contract expires following the 2013-14 season. Should he play two years or beyond his current contract, Bryant could’ve played the majority of Howard’s five-year deal worth $118 million.
The Howard-Bryant dynamic never reached the personal animosity between Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.
When the Lakers acquired Howard last season in a four-team, 12-player trade from the Orlando Magic, Bryant openly embraced setting Howard up to become the team’s next franchise player. When Bryant suffered a torn left Achilles tendon in mid-April, Howard was among the first to visit him at his Newport Beach residence.
But frustration floundered over various differences. Howard’s jovial personality clashed with Bryant’s demanding leadership style. Bryant believed Howard didn’t have a consistently strong mindset in playing through injuries and dominating on defense. Howard soured when Bryant’s high shot volume came at the expense of him receiving the ball inside.
Did Bryant’s proclamation about extending his career convince Howard his hope to become the franchise’s player would amount to nothing more than a pipe dream?
“It’s not about being the guy,” World Peace said. “It’s about clicking. Dwight never wanted to be the guy. Dwight did have some flaws just like anybody. Everybody has flaws. But Dwight just wanted to be comfortable. He wasn’t comfortable [here]. But once that happened [with Bryant's comments], I knew Dwight wasn’t coming back. I knew he wasn’t going to come back.”
Does World Peace believe Howard made the right decision?
“He wants to win,” World Peace said. “With [James] Harden and those young boys, he has a chance to ride out the wave and wait for these old boys to get old. Right now, Houston has a good shot to win now. The Lakers are broken up and at some point in time, the young veterans will beat the old veterans. Our team needed to have chemistry right away. We should’ve because we’re all vets. It’s a shame that we didn’t.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at email@example.com