Aug. 2 is when teams can officially begin negotiating with free agents, and the Los Angeles Lakers have their work cut out for them as they try to fill out their roster.
Although the Lakers were able to land Russell Westbrook in a blockbuster deal, it depleted the roster of most of its depth and rotation after sending out Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Montrezl Harrell. In addition, Los Angeles has limited ways to add free agents to make matters worse because of their salary cap situation. They are only equipped with the taxpayer’s mid-level exception and veteran minimum contracts.
Harrell was always thought to leave the Lakers even after he surprisingly opted-in to his contract, but with him gone, the team only has Marc Gasol under contract for the 2021-22 season. The center rotation was an issue throughout the 2020-21 season, and Rob Pelinka must find bigs who can man the paint through the regular season to preserve Anthony Davis.
Fortunately for the Purple and Gold, it seems that a reunion may be in the works because according to Broderick Turner, Andrew Grief, and Dan Woike of Los Angeles Times, Dwight Howard, is willing to return:
Guess who might be back for a third time? Yup, Dwight Howard is ready to return and play center. Jeff Green and Goran Dragic also are names to look out for.
Howard, a member of the 2020 NBA Championship team, departed the Lakers in free agency last year after a misunderstanding between the two sides. Howard instead went to the Philadelphia 76ers to back up Joel Embiid, but they were eliminated in the second round against the Atlanta Hawks.
Even at 35 years old, Howard remains one of the more athletic and physically imposing centers in the league, and he would resume his role as a lob threat and shot-blocker in Los Angeles. The veteran has proven he is willing to accept fewer minutes and touches and that in itself makes him a worthwhile grab for a Lakers team that is in desperate need of someone with his skillset.
Frank Vogel valued time with Dwight Howard
One person who would be supportive of reuniting with Howard is head coach Frank Vogel. Vogel said during the season that his relationship with Howard was one of the more rewarding ones he has had in his career, so it would make sense for the big man to come back.