Despite his elite production early in his career with the Orlando Magic, Dwight Howard is a player who has a unique reputation across the league. While nobody has ever questioned his talent level and athletic gifts, since his first go-round with the Lakers and his brushes with Kobe Bryant, his work ethic has been repeatedly called into question.
From Kobe screaming “you’re soft” at Howard in the year following their breakup to numerous reports of his unwillingness to put in the necessary time and effort to hone his craft, Howard’s stock has taken a serious hit as the once former superstar is now hoping to prove himself with a second chance (and non-guaranteed contract) with the Lakers.
Lakers’ Rajon Rondo, Anthony Davis & JaVale McGee Were Skeptical of Dwight Howard
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, some of the Lakers took matters into their own hands when news of interest in Howard started circulating.
Word traveled around the roster, and Davis, Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee spent time with Howard inside the team’s facility Thursday. They wanted to know whether they could trust Howard, whether Howard’s mindset would fit this team.
League sources said Howard had a convincing and emotional meeting with the players and Lakers officials, explaining how he had reached rock bottom a season ago and needed to find a new mindset in his life. On and off the floor. He was not the teammate he needed to be in playing for three teams in the past three years. He did not take the game seriously enough, he did not understand what was needed to turn the corner.
Given Howard’s reputation across the league, it makes sense why championship hungry veterans such as Rondo, McGee, and Davis would sit Howard down to make sure his head was in the right place. The Lakers pushed their chips all in for a championship this season and with what seems to be an extremely strong culture and chemistry in place, some key members of establishing that culture wanted to ensure that Howard wouldn’t disrupt what they had built.
If what Howard says is true and he is in fact here to put his head down and go to work, the Lakers could have very well found themselves one of, if not THE best backup big man in the league.
Dwight Howard’s Non-Guaranteed Contract
One major piece of information regarding the deal is the fact that the Lakers were able to sign Dwight to a non-guaranteed contract. Extremely rare in the NBA, this allows the Lakers to have the ability to cut ties with Howard at any time – should he ruffle any feathers – without facing any negative cap implications.
It also speaks volumes to Howard’s standing around the league as rebuilding teams don’t want to give away minutes to an aging vet while contending teams were hesitant to take him on given his history. Essentially a “prove it” deal, Howard should have an excellent opportunity to show the league he can still contribute while playing his role and keeping a low profile.