The Dwight Howard-to-Lakers bandwagon train is in full effect.
Not only are Los Angeles Lakers fans oddly rooting for Howard to re-join the franchise after his disastrous past with the organization, well-known sports analyst Jim Rome is now getting in on the fray.
According to Rome, not only should the Lakers sign Howard because he’s a difference maker, if they sign him, he will personally pick up the veteran big man at the airport.
Rome argues that Howard “is a large human being (able) to absorb some minutes. And there are limited numbers of guys on the face of the earth that can do that right about now.”
He also goes states during his plea for the Lakers to sign Howard that the “Polish Hammer” Marcin Gortat, “Joe” (Joakim Noah), — and “Marcine” — Marreese Speights — won’t be difference-makers for Los Angeles this season and that they won’t help in their quest to hoist another banner.
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The Lakers are looking for a replacement for former All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury during a pickup game last season. He is expected to be out for the season.
As reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN on Tuesday, the Lakers are planning individual workouts for Howard, Noah and Speights. They’re also interested in Gortat, although there’s no news on whether or not they plan on giving an individual workout like the aforementioned three.
While each player has their strengths — even at the downside of all of their respective careers — it is Howard who remains the most interesting addition. We’re all aware that Howard’s 2012-13 season in Los Angeles marked the beginning of his downfall. At the beginning of this decade, the eight-time All-Star was a top-three player in this league with the likes of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
Yes, that’s how much of a superstar Howard was. The guy had numerous endorsement deals, including with the likes of McDonald’s and Adidas. He was touted as “Superman” after jumping over a car and winning the Slam Dunk Contest and was a three-time Defensive Player of the Year.
At the time he joined forces with Kobe and Steve Nash on the Lakers at the start of the 2012-13 season, everyone had them pegged on a course to the NBA Finals with the LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh-led Miami Heat. The problem is, in-house clashing between Bryant and Howard and Howard’s own back issues led to a dismal 45-37 record and a disappointing sweep in the first round of the playoffs.
Instead of returning to the Lakers as the franchise star and making up for that downtrodden season, he left and is now on the verge of playing for his fifth team in as many seasons. Quite the fall from grace for a guy who was a five-time First-Team All-NBA selection and had a flawless image prior to his arrival in Los Angeles.
But it’s not just Howard who experienced a fall from grace since then — it’s also the Lakers. They haven’t made the playoffs since Howard’s last season and have become the joke of the NBA. Their front office duo of Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka is constantly being criticized — and it was even worse when Magic Johnson was running the show before abruptly stepping down just before the end of the 2018-19 regular season.
In other words, both sides need each other — there’s no real leverage on either side here.
Howard can never make people fully forget that disastrous lone season in Los Angeles. But what if he can come back as a role player with less expectations and help lead the LeBron and Anthony Davis-led Lakers to a championship title?
There is no doubt that Lakers fans would forgive D12 for his past transgressions.
Follow D.J. Siddiqi on Twitter @DJSiddiqi