Dwight Howard is working on his game and Los Angeles Lakers veteran Jared Dudley wants to see him back in purple and gold.
The Lakers let Howard get away during free agency last offseason, with the big man instead signing with the Philadelphia 76ers. Just as he was with the Lakers, Howard became a valuable piece off the bench in Philadelphia backing up Joel Embiid, quickly becoming a fan favorite. Howard is entering his 18th NBA season but is looking to make a change, adding a 3-point shot to his game. Howard posted a video showing off his latest work, draining some shots from deep.
“I want a parade,” Howard wrote as the caption. “Let’s work.”
The video caught the attention of Howard’s nearly 3 million Instagram followers, including his former Lakers teammate Jared Dudley, who petitioned the big man to run it back with the purple and gold.
“Time to come home,” Dudley wrote.
Howard Would Be Key Addition for Lakers
Howard won a title with the Lakers in 2020 but the team was unable to have a parade due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If Howard was to return to Los Angeles for the third stint of his career with the Lakers, he’d be a key addition on the cheap for a Lakers team that was a mess at the center position last season.
And if Howard adds even the slightest ability to stretch the floor with his outside shooting, it would provide a big boost and make him more of an asset.
If free agency rumors are to be believed, the Lakers are looking to make a splash this offseason with a third star alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. If that happens, the Lakers will need to add a player like Howard, who will come in and provide production on the veteran’s minimum or close to it.
Howard averaged 7.0 points and 8.4 rebounds last season with Philadelphia. Howard provided nearly 20 minutes per game, 7.5 rebounds and 7.3 rebounds with the Lakers in the year prior.
Lakers Looking for Solutions at Center Position
It looked like the Lakers had upgraded the center position last offseason, trading Howard and JaVale McGee for veteran Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell — the reigning Sixth Man of the Year. However, the addition of Andre Drummond following a buyout muddled the rotation up, with Lakers fans missing the paint presence and consistency of Howard and McGee.
Gasol is the only center under contract for next season, although it’s uncertain if he’ll return to the Lakers. Drummond is a free agent and Harrell is weighing a player-option for next season that’ll pay him $9.72 million. Both have expressed interest in returning but have also been critical of their roles.
Harrell, who was used sparingly in the playoffs, said matchups were only an excuse for him not being on the court. Reports point to him opting in, although the Lakers could choose to trade him after that.
Drummond has said he wants to run it back in LA but also commented that he could have done more if he was given more playing time by Frank Vogel (although he later said this comment was just a joke and he was trying to promote his NFT auction).