The Los Angeles Lakers appear to have found their new backup center after an ACL tear likely ended DeMarcus Cousins’ season before it began. According to the Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Lakers are set to sign Dwight Howard as a free agent after the center finalizes a buyout with the Memphis Grizzlies, a formality that was likely to occur anyway.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 23, 2019
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the contract will be non-guaranteed in order for Howard to prove to the organization that he can contribute to their championship expectations.
The Lakers worked out Howard and Grizzlies free agent Joakim Noah on Thursday before following that up by working out Marreese Speights on Friday. There had also been reported interest in Marcin Gortat but it does not appear as though they worked out the Polish international.
Howard comes back to the Lakers for the first time since the 2012-13 season, his lone year with the Lakers that ended disastrously after sky-high expectations. Howard butted heads with franchise icon Kobe Bryant as well as coaches and management leading to his departure following the season to the Houston Rockets.
A former MVP-candidate and NBA Finalist, Howard has not been the same player since due to a variety of back injuries that have limited the athleticism that made him great with the Orlando Magic. Nevertheless, two years ago, he put up huge production for the Charlotte Hornets.
Last year, Howard appeared in only nine games for the Washington Wizards due to injury.
The Lakers are expected to start JaVale McGee alongside Anthony Davis in the frontcourt and can now bring Howard in off the bench to spell minutes for the second-year Laker.