Dwight Howard expressed to Mitch Kupchak during his exit interview that he was frustrated by how Mike D'Antoni used him during his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers, according to sources.

Howard also felt marginalized by D'Antoni, feeling he looked to Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash for leadership and suggestions.

D'Antoni elected not to retain Chuck Person on his coaching staff, who is a confidant of Howard. Furthermore, Steve Clifford has become a head coaching candidate for several NBA vacancies. Clifford was with Howard for five seasons with the Orlando Magic.

One source described the potential departure of Clifford, coupled with the loss of Person as "removing the buffers," between Howard and D'Antoni, "which is a bad thing."

Howard has been careful not to make public comments after what happened last season with Stan Van Gundy, but the situation with D'Antoni doesn't appear to be irreparable.

"It's not a, 'It's me or Mike,' situation for Dwight," said a source.

Howard is a free agent and can sign a five-year, $118 million contract with the Lakers, or up to a four-year, $87.6 million deal with a rival team that has cap space.