Considering how Howard left the Lakers the first time and then played for four different teams in six seasons, there were some concerns about the move.
However, it was revealed Howard’s deal was actually non-guaranteed, which he asked for to prove himself while protecting the Lakers from any risks.
Because of Howard’s efforts, the Lakers reportedly will guarantee his deal for the rest of the season now, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
The Lakers have until the 2 p.m. PT deadline Tuesday to waive Howard’s contract, the veteran’s minimum $2.56 million, but will not do so, league sources told ESPN, thus guaranteeing Howard for the rest of the season.
Prior to the team’s decision, Howard reflected on his 16-year career:
“You got to be able to stand the rain,” Howard said. “That’s what makes us humans. That’s what makes us. The ability to go through tough times and not allow it to break our character. It’s hard to do. It’s hard to go through hell and be like, ‘OK, just smile it off.’ But you never know how close you are to a breakthrough if you just quit on yourself.”
Although Howard has said the right things since leaving the Lakers the first time in 2013 NBA free agency, his actions have been the opposite. However, in perhaps in final chance in the NBA, he has willingly been a ‘star in his role.’
In 36 games (zero starts), Howard has established himself as one of the best bigs off the bench by averaging 7.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks in just 19.5 minutes. While these numbers may not be eye-popping, he has been a major contributor for the best team in the Western Conference so far.
With Howard becoming a fan favorite once again, he is currently 10th in fan voting for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game. While Howard’s ninth appearance is unlikely, he reportedly will participate in the 2020 NBA Slam Dunk Contest.