The Los Angeles Lakers were dealt a crucial blow by losing Avery Bradley for the 2019-20 NBA restart and are now hoping to avoid the same fate with Dwight Howard.
Bradley and Howard have been among the most outspoken members of the players’ coalition in raising concerns over finishing out the season in a bubble environment at the Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, amid the efforts being made to combat racial injustice.
Aside from their obligation to raise awareness on the social unease that exists due to systemic racism, they each have their own personal reasons for wanting to stay at home during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For Bradley, a medical issue with his 6-year-old son played a major role in his decision to sit out.
Howard still has yet to make a decision, but that will need to change with teams now having to submit their final rosters to the league.
“Dwight is another player of ours that has an extenuating circumstance in addition to some of the social justice messaging he’s been doing, which we’re supportive of,” Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka said.
“One of his sons, a 6-year-old son, did tragically lose his mother several weeks ago. We have been working very closely, and I have been in contact with Dwight and his agent often.
“As you guys know, there was an opt out date that Dwight did not give notice that he was opting out, so we are going to continue to work through those extenuating circumstances with Dwight and support him, support his 6-year-old son and hope for the best — that he will be a part of our roster in Orlando. But that will be a continued process.”
The Lakers have clearly put an emphasis on supporting Howard’s situation and the challenges that have come for players risking their health to revive the season for potentially up to three months. Although it could leave them with another notable void to fill on the roster down the road, Pelinka’s comments indicate that they are still optimistic about his status.
Los Angeles has seemingly managed to find a replacement for Bradley in the form of JR Smith given his skill set as a two-way player. However, bringing in a suitable replacement for Howard age this point in the year could prove to be much more difficult considering his contributions off the bench.
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