The Grizzlies announced the transaction on their official Twitter account early on Saturday. Howard is expected to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers after working out for the team earlier in the week and agreeing on a one-year deal worth $2.6 million.
The eight-time All-Star had been acquired by the Grizzlies in early July in a trade with the Washington Wizards for C.J. Miles. The trade to Memphis marked Howard’s fifth stop in six years. With Howard now back with the Lakers, it’ll mark his sixth team in as many seasons.
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Dwight Howard’s Last Chance in the NBA
Howard will re-join a Lakers organization that he originally left on bad terms back in 2013. But the situation is much different now compared to then. The 33-year-old veteran was expected to carry the franchise in the post-Kobe Bryant era back in 2013. He was in the thick of his prime and was one of the NBA’s top stars.
However, a lot has changed since then. A back injury that robbed him of his athleticism, the NBA’s shift to 3-point shooting and a less-than-stellar reputation has led to a humbled Howard returning to Los Angeles as merely a role player.
Howard’s new contract with the Lakers is a non-guaranteed one. Which means that one slip-up not only means the end of his second tenure in Los Angeles — it likely means the end of his 16-year NBA career.
The former three-time Defensive Player of the Year will battle for the starting center job in the wake of DeMarcus Cousins’ season-ending ACL injury. Howard will battle with JaVale McGee for the right to start alongside LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma and Rajon Rondo in a season filled with championship expectations.
Howard not only had to win over the Lakers by proving he still had his physical gifts in a workout — he had to win over his new teammates by proving he had the mindset it takes to win a title.
Dwight Howard’s Chance at Redemption in Los Angeles
Unsurprisingly, Howard also wanted to make up for that disastrous lone season in Los Angeles with Bryant — a 45-37 season that resulted in a first-round sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs back in 2013 — the last time the Lakers made the postseason.
Via Shams Charania of The Athletic:
“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.
He wanted redemption in L.A., too, after how his lone season alongside Kobe Bryant went. He wanted to be part of a championship team, and he was willing to do whatever was asked of him, no matter the role, and be held accountable at all times, Howard told them.
The Lakers had gathered momentum in their own research into Howard over the past week, but needed the roster to be fully on board. Howard won over the players in the locker room, including James and Davis, for his approach and mindset in the visit, sources said.”
Although Howard is no longer the star of the team, his contributions as a role player will likely dictate whether or not the Lakers are able to live up to expectations.
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