The Lakers and Dwight Howard get a do-over. How will Superman 2.0 compare to the less than successful 1.0 version?
In the aftermath of the devastating injury to DeMarcus Cousins, Dwight Howard is expected to join the Lakers after clearing waivers on a non-guaranteed contract. He recently completed a buyout with the Memphis Grizzlies after being traded to the franchise during the summer.
The circumstances that led to this reunion are well documented. Namely, the trade For A.D., the signing of Kawhi Leonard to the Clippers and the injury to Cousins. However, even as the opportunity arose, those with knowledge of the past marriage between Howard and the Lakers could not have foreseen such a reunion.
Howard’s previous tenure with the Lakers did not go well. Upon being acquired by the Lakers in August of 2012 in a four-team deal that included Andrew Bynum and Andre Iguodala. From the beginning, the Lakers and Howard got off on a rocky start. From back injuries to a clash with Kobe, Howard never quite fit in with that Lakers team and eventually left during free agency in the Summer of 2013. Now he returns, nowhere near the same player, as injuries have robbed him of his explosiveness. Howard only played 9 games for the Wizard last season, so he has not been in-game action.
Espn’s Ramona Shelburne reported that apparently Howard met with the Lakers front office and some of the players also and convinced them that not only is he physically ready to contribute but mentally as well.
Which brings me to this question. Is this move a good fit for the Lakers or Howard? In my assessment, a lot is depending upon his health and attitude. Since 2011 Dwight, who once nicknamed himself “Superman” has succumbed to Kryptonite with everything from injuries to his back to his knees to his fingers. He has also been labeled as a cancer in the locker room. He reportedly has had issues with Harden in Houston, Kemba in Charlotte, Dennis Schroeder in Atlanta. His issues with Stan Van Gundy in Orlando and Kobe in L.A are also well documented.
If Howard has relinquished his idea of being a star and is content with coming off the bench and being a rebounder and defender, he could be an even bigger addition than Cousins. Cousins was to be counted on to score, however, the Lakers don’t need scoring, they need defense, which is Howard’s trademark. He may be humbled at this stage of his career and will be in the locker room with multiple players who have reached the mountain top.
To me, this is a low risk, decent reward scenario. Dwight is on a non-guaranteed contract. The Lakers can get out of the deal if they cut him before Jan 7th. If his attitude is not right, if he adjusts to his role or if his body fails him, they have an out. So, to answer the question, this is a good fit for both. It’s an audition for both parties, and if all pans out, Howard gets to contribute to a championship-caliber team, and the opportunity to improve his stock for free agency next year. The Lakers can add a player that is still able to not only rebound and defend but is capable to provide a more than adequate replacement if something happens to a starting big.
Although I don’t believe that Howardis the best fit for the Lakers at this time, which is primarily due to history, I believe it can work out. One thing is for sure, the ball is definitely in his court.