The proposed reunion between Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers makes too much sense to pass up.
As reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Lakers are expected to request permission to speak with the All-Star center and former Lakers big man — despite the fact that he’s still under contract with the Memphis Grizzlies. Howard is expected to soon be waived by the Grizzlies as he looks for his seventh NBA team.
As everyone is aware by now, Cousins suffered his third major injury in the past two years, suffering a torn ACL during a pickup game earlier in the week. The veteran center is expected to miss the entire 2019-20 season, which means the Lakers are extremely thin when it comes to their depth at the big man positions.
Anthony Davis is currently slotted as the team’s starting power forward and it’s not expected that he’ll slide over to the center position. JaVale McGee is the team’s only other option at center while Kyle Kuzma plays the power forward position.
With the Lakers lacking guys who can actually play down low, grab some rebounds and add some physicality, it makes way too much sense for D12 and the Lakers to reunite.
Dwight Howard’s Disastrous Lone Season With Lakers
As most can assume by now, the Lakers were likely hesitant to add Howard– despite a pressing need at center since last season — due to his rough history with the franchise.
Although he spent only one season in the purple and gold, it was a disastrous one. The 2012-13 season was expected to be one in which the Lakers won a championship with the trio of Howard, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. Instead, the team fell apart rather quickly as Howard’s back injury and feud with the five-time NBA champion dominated headlines.
Instead of contending for a championship, the Lakers had to claw their way back into the playoff race after a rough start to the season. Despite having the second-best record in the league in the post-All Star break, the Lakers clinched just the seventh seed in the Western Conference and were promptly eliminated by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs in the absence of Bryant following his Achilles tear at the end of the regular season.
It was Howard who received most of the blame for the team’s shortcomings, with his reputation taking a major hit in his first and only season in Los Angeles.
When Howard arrived in Los Angeles in 2012, he was expected to carry the franchise and lead the way in the post-Bryant era. More importantly, he was seen as the top big man and one of the league’s top stars as a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and an annual All-Star selection.
Since bolting Los Angeles for the Houston Rockets, Howard’s star has fallen as the league’s shift to perimeter play and 3-point shooting has negated the veteran center’s strengths in recent years.
While speaking with the Los Angeles Times‘ Arash Markazi last month, Howard appeared to be open to a reunion with the Lakers — despite his rough history with the franchise.
Dwight Howard Is Lakers’ Best Option
As also reported by Charania, the Lakers are also looking at the possibility of adding Joakim Noah. The problem with Noah is, not only does he have a previous beef with franchise star LeBron James stemming from their playoff battles, he’s also literally the definition of a guy that is past his prime.
While he did look better in a Grizzlies uniform than he did as a member of the New York Knicks, remember that he was only forced to play 42 games after signing with the franchise following the start of the 2018-19 regular season. Noah was absolutely disastrous during his stint with the Knicks, averaging just 5.0 points in 22.1 minutes per game while serving as the team’s starting center when he was in the lineup during the 2016-17 season.
Unlike Noah, Howard’s productivity hasn’t fallen off of a cliff. Although he went through an injury-plagued season last year, he had averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game while appearing in 81 of 82 games all while shooting 55.5 percent from the field — not much different from his career averages of 17.4 points and 12.7 rebounds per game.
When looking at the Lakers’ other options — guys like Kenneth Faried and the 36-year-old Nene Hilario — they simply aren’t capable of the productivity that Howard brings to the table.
For all of the criticism that he’s had to endure in recent years, the bottom line is that the 33-year-old Howard remains an extremely productive big man in the twilight years of his career.
When you factor in Howard’s desire to win a championship before the end of his career — he’s only made one Finals appearance in his 15-year NBA career — the fact that the Lakers have a pressing need at center and Howard’s desperation to play for any contending team at this stage of his career, a reunion makes too much sense for the Lakers to pass up.
You heard it here first — expect Howard to return to the Lakers for the 2019-20 season.
Follow D.J. Siddiqi on Twitter @DJSiddiqi