The Los Angeles Lakers have a hole to fill at center and are seriously interested in veteran big man Dwight Howard, Rohan Nadkarni of Sports Illustrated reports. Howard remains under contract with the Memphis Grizzlies but is a strong candidate to get bought out.
Nadkarni isn’t the only one sniffing out whispers of a potential Howard reunion. Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that there’s mutual interest between the two parties and that the Lakers have requested permission to talk to the 33-year-old.
Howard has become somewhat of a nomad over the course of his last four seasons in the NBA and hit a career low in 2018-19, missing all but nine games for the Washington Wizards before an offseason trade sent him to Memphis.
When he’s healthy, however, he remains a productive big. Howard averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game for the Charlotte Hornets in 2017-18. He turned that into a two-year contract with the Wizards last summer and picked up his $5.6 million player option for 2019-20 in April.
With DeMarcus Cousins now sidelined with a torn ACL, the addition of Howard would fortify a Lakers lineup that has no other choice but to contend with every option available.
According to NBA TV’s Jared Greenberg, the Lakers don’t want or expect Anthony Davis to play extended minutes at the five, so they’re going to need to fill the Cousins vacancy somewhere else. In Howard, the franchise could take a flyer on another once-dominant player eager to retake command of the narrative of his career.
The Lakers have other options at the five, including their own JaVale McGee, who played 22 minutes per game for the squad last season. Charania floated Joakim Noah – who ranked No. 2 in my list of the top available NBA free agents earlier this month – as another potential target.
If the Grizz do end up buying out the eight-time All-NBA center, the Lakers would have the chance to bring Howard back to the Staples Center for a second run in Hollywood.
Howard played the 2012-13 campaign there and averaged a typical 17.4 points and 12.1 rebounds per game but the fit didn’t stick and he signed with the Houston Rockets the following summer.