Kobe Bryant with then-Lakers coach Phil Jackson during the 2011 playoffs. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
Dwight Howard isn't being used properly by the Lakers, according to former Lakers coach Phil Jackson.
"They just don't put the ball in the post," Jackson told Jack McCallum of SI.com. "Yes, Kobe [Bryant] will go in there. But Dwight just doesn't get any touches. They've basically eliminated his assets."
Jackson coached the Lakers to five championships and was in consideration for a third run with the team before Mike D'Antoni was hired to replace Mike Brown.
"You want the ball 10 feet away from the basket. Throw it into the post, make them double-team and have everybody around to make shots," said Jackson. "That's what [Shaquille O'Neal] could do. That's where you have the Robert Horrys, the Derek Fishers and the Rick Foxes sitting out there getting wide-open jumpers."
Howard has struggled this season, recovering from back surgery and playing through a shoulder injury.
"He is not where he needs to be physically because of the back surgery," said Jackson. "He needs a year to recover from something like that. He's starting to come around, but he has a massive upper body to carry around. He's a terrific athlete, but he still has to get all that back. He's looking better all the time, but his problem right now is turnovers. He's got to have a little better recognition, and that will help him gain the confidence of his teammates and coach, which he does not have now."
Jackson said he will not coach again but may have designs on a basketball operations/player personnel position.
He also said he's noticed that the Lakers are improving.
"I think they are finding a way to play. And that's nice to see," said Jackson. "Steve [Nash] has had to sacrifice because Kobe is dominating the ball, but Kobe is showing he can be both playmaker and scorer. Now it's about defense. And I think that's coming around. They make the playoffs, I think they've shown they're going to be in it with every team."
Lakers: Week 17 predictions
Colleagues speak out on the passing of Jerry Buss
Kobe Bryant agrees with Michael Jordan: Titles are the true measure
Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.