Dwight Howard proved everyone wrong during his second stint with the Los Angeles Lakers, showing he could fall in line and accept a smaller role on a team with championship aspirations.
Howard saw about 19 minutes per game during the 2019-20 season, anchoring the defense for the second unit in relief of JaVale McGee. Howard’s insistence on playing as a traditional post-up big in previous stops often resulted in clashes with the coaching staffs.
But on the Lakers he was happy to act as a screener who feasted on lobs and offensive putbacks. The big man played a key role in the playoffs, particularly in the Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets when he was able to hold his own against Nikola Jokic.
Howard’s strength and physicality bothered Jokic, while his rim protection helped deter shots in the painted area. Despite earning his first ring with Los Angeles, Howard opted to sign with the Philadelphia 76ers in free agency but did a post a heartfelt message to Lakers fans on Instagram:
Howard’s redemption arc in his second stint with the Lakers was a fun story throughout the year, especially considering fans were not too thrilled with his signing. DeMarcus Cousins’s unfortunate injury prior to the season opened the door for Howard to return and the situation played out better than anyone could have hoped for.
After the playoffs ended, it was speculated that vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka would try to re-sign Howard, and it appeared as though he would be back with the team. However, a misunderstanding about a deal concept led to Howard signing with the 76ers.
Lakers do more shuffling at center
In addition to essentially passing on Howard in free agency, the Lakers have reportedly agreed to trade JaVale McGee and a future second-round draft pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers. That was followed with news of Marc Gasol signing a two-year deal.
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