The Los Angeles Lakers made a low-risk, high-reward decision when they signed Dwight Howard to a one-year, non-guaranteed deal that will pay him approximately $14,500 for every day he stays with the team once the 2019-20 NBA season begins.
While many fans are cringing at the thought of seeing Howard in a Lakers jersey again, it was the best they could do in a precarious situation with DeMarcus Cousins likely out for the season with a torn ACL.
The good news is — unlike last time in 2012 — Howard is not being brought in to save them or to be the next great Lakers big man. He’s simply a desperation heave in a tough situation.
Howard is fully aware of this and knows his role will be much simpler than it was six seasons ago. When asked about the discussion he and the team had about his role this season, Howard was concise in what his job was, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“They want me to be the best person I can be for this team. Defense, dominating the boards, dominating my position, helping everybody out, and talking. On offense, picking and rolling which is something that I think has been a misconception with a lot of people. They think that I hate picking and rolling or something like that. But whatever this team needs me to do, we’re going to do it.”
After all of this, Howard reiterated that his major concern was defense and being a frightening presence down low that team will be afraid to go up against, via Twitter:
“The main thing I’m looking forward to is defense. I really don’t see anybody coming in our house and scoring at will.”
So far, Howard seems to be saying all the right things. However, for someone like Howard, who’s been here before and left fans and players alike wildly disappointed, it will take a lot more than a few good words to become a fan favorite. He’ll need to show that he’s capable of doing all of that on the court while remaining focused and driven off it.
He’s already starting to win over some as rapper and famous Lakers fan Ice Cube already went on record to urge fans to give Howard another chance. There’s no reason why fans shouldn’t give Howard another chance if he’s willing to be a role player that helps the Lakers win games.
For the time being, Howard seems focused and ready. That’s something that couldn’t have been said about him many times in the past few seasons.