In the wake of the devastating knee injury to Demarcus Cousins, it appears – as predicted – that Rob Pelinka’s Lakers are prepared to entertain the idea of bringing divisive centre Dwight Howard back to the Staples Centre.
Howard was a centrepiece to the disastrous 2012-13 campaign, in which a star-studded lineup headed by him, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash went 45-37 and got swept by the Spurs in the first round.
The 6 foot 11 centre was a member of the Washington Wizards last season – only playing nine games and putting up 12.8 point and 9.2 rebounds in 25.6 minutes – but has enviable career stats of of 17.4 points, 12.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game across a rash of different teams.
He was traded to Memphis in July in a salary dump involving veteran wing C.J. Miles, but, according to Woj, there is little chance of the veteran centre suiting up for the Grizzlies.
The Lakers appear to be one of the only destinations in the league that make sense for the 33-year-old given his recent injury history and well-known locker-room troubles. While there’s a chance Cousins finds a way to return from his ACL tear by the end of the season, he is unlikely to be able to provide the 15-20 minutes per game backing up JaVale McGee that Los Angeles so desperately desires.
For obvious reasons, it seems Pelinka is not overly interested in simply signing one of the sub-par free agent centres on the market. There’s something about the names Joakim Noah, Zaza Pachulia or Salah Mejri that is just so horribly unappealing.
In his short tenure with the Lakers Howard averaged 17.1 points and 12.4 rebounds and was all-together acceptable, but his ability to adapt to a bench role and mesh with LeBron James and Anthony Davis is something that remains to be seen.
Frank Vogel – as new head coach – is likely to do all he can to please James and Davis, and a big part of that will be avoiding playing Davis at centre as much as possible – a position he notoriously detests.
Despite an interrupted season in 2018-19 (in his 15th season in the league) Howard had missed just 20 games over the three previous seasons. He still seems to have his vaunted athleticism, and would be more than capable of playing 15-20 minutes against back-ups.
The Lakers could do a lot worse than signing him, even if it is just a stop-gap until the buy-out market in February.
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