Well, it’s safe to say that NBA free agency is officially alive.
Dwight Howard was expected to re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers for most of the offseason. While he said that he wanted to get paid well, the thought was that he’d stick around. It looked like the speculation finally came to an end when it was reported that he was officially re-signing. He even went so far as to tweet out a message saying that he was staying in Los Angeles.
He quickly deleted that tweet and he’s now moving across the country. According to The Athletic’s Sham Charania, Howard and the Philadelphia 76ers have agreed on a one-year deal.
This is a very bizarre turn of events after it looked like a done deal he was staying put. He must’ve prematurely thought that he was going with the Lakers until the 76ers offered him a better deal. This was a massive pivot by Howard and will probably hurt his reputation in Los Angeles after he was able to fix it this past season.
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There’s still a lot of things that will need to come out to understand what happened with Howard but it’s a very confusing situation right now. What makes this move even more confusing is the contract that the 76ers gave Howard. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, Howard is getting $2.6 million. It was previously reported that the Lakers were going to give him $3.1 million.
It’s impossible to know what exactly happened from the brief time he said he was staying with the Lakers to now. He’s not getting a better deal from the 76ers so it could be that Los Angeles wasn’t ready to commit to Howard. If the Lakers decided they didn’t want him, they should have some kind of backup plan.
Lakers Need Another Center
With Howard off to Philly, that means that JaVale McGee is the only true center on the Lakers’ roster now. A big reason the team won the championship is because they were able to dominate teams with their superior size. Howard also brought a lot of energy and passion off the bench. Though he was never one of the team’s top players, he became a very important piece, especially in the playoff series against the Denver Nuggets.
The Lakers should look to replace him quickly. In a perfect world, they let Howard walk because they think they’re going to sign Serge Ibaka. The Toronto Raptors free agent is younger than Howard and is one of the best defensive big men in the NBA. He’s also averaged 15 points a game over the last two seasons. Put Ibaka and Anthony Davis on the court together and nobody is scoring in the paint on this team.
If the Lakers are looking for a cheaper option, they could go after Tristan Thompson. He’s a little small for a center but does have experience at the position. He’s also very close with LeBron James, which should help his chances. Thompson would be a decent replacement for Howard.