As much it is for Laker fans clamoring for the firing of Mike D'Antoni, the players have to be the ones to take the initiative to resolve the problems themselves. D'Antoni may have been showing how inept he is in coaching this team, especially this month, but it's most likely the Lakers front office won't kick a 2nd head coach out of town this season. They might make some roster moves by the trade deadline, but it doesn't look like they're ready to part with D'Antoni right now. So the only realistic solution is for the players to just go out there and play the game together.
No better person to act like an ambassador than its leader, Kobe Bryant. And no better teammate to start with than Dwight Howard.
The Lakers gave up Andrew Bynum for Howard in hopes that D12 would stick around and become the new face of the franchise. Not only that, the Lakers needed a center who is more pro-active on defense than Bynum. Right now, however, Dwight isn't living up to expectations. At least, not consistently.
You can try to fault his back not being at 100% as the reason for his fluctuating effort on that end of the floor. But we've seen Howard dominate on defense enough to really be a major factor in wins for the Lakers. Right now, he looks and plays like he's disconnected. That's not something the Lakers or their fans would like to see.
Kobe should spend time and talk with Howard in a more private and comfortable setting to see his side of the story — what things he wants to see change and if he's truly sold in taking over the franchise for Bryant. This way, the Lakers can kill 2 birds with 1 stone.
1. Get Howard engaged again.
2. Find out if his heart is truly in Los Angeles.
If Bryant does find out that Howard really wants to stay and be the new leader of the team, then Kobe will need to sacrifice some more and start giving Dwight more responsibility and accountability as the heir apparent.
And if both Kobe and Dwight are on the same page as to where they want to see this team go and communicate that to their teammates, then the rest of the team will follow. Once that happens, the chemistry will rise. And when you combine that much needed chemistry with their talent and experience, there's really nowhere else for the Lakers to go but up.
It's become clear now that D'Antoni probably never had the players' respect. But that's still no reason for the players not to play for one another. (That is unless they genuinely dislike each other.)
If Kobe really means to be a true leader for this team, then he has to continue to look for ways to bring his team together. Otherwise, they have to rely on Lakers management to try to solve it for them. Seeing as they want to hold on to D'Antoni for at least the remainder of the season, the players have very little options on their side.