Dwight Howard is coming off a highly successful campaign in his second stint with the LA Lakers. Howard played a pivotal part to the Lakers’ frontcourt in their push toward securing the 2020 NBA title. The former star big man is now set to hit free agency and has quickly clarified his interest in returning to LA.
Dwight Howard’s bounce-back campaign with the Lakers
Before the 2019-20 season, Dwight Howard floated around in free agency with much uncertainty concerning his NBA future.
Howard was coming off a campaign cut short due to a back injury, which led the Washington Wizards to trade him to the Memphis Grizzlies, where he was cut shortly after. An opportunity to play for the LA Lakers opened up after DeMarcus Cousins suffered a torn ACL.
Howard entered the situation on a non-guaranteed, $2.5 million deal that quickly proved to be worth the risk. The former All-Star big man played a pivotal role off the bench as a substantial defensive asset in the paint and a vital factor behind his rebounding and interior scoring.
For the first time in his career, he held a role off the bench, where his minutes fluctuated. Howard’s play was pivotal at moments in the playoffs toward an NBA title, especially in the Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets by defending Nikola Jokic.
All that has helped put him in the position to cash in this shortened offseason in free agency, which could very well include a return to the Lakers.
Dwight Howard’s only request from the Lakers
Dwight Howard will enter free agency for the second straight offseason, hoping to extend his NBA career.
The opportunity to return to the Lakers should be on the table as he played a vital role in the frontcourt by providing production and stability. During a recent interview with former NBA big man Etan Thomas, Howard voiced that he would love to re-sign with the Lakers on a deal that pays him more.
“I would love to come back and play for the Lakers again,” Howard said. “Hopefully, this year, they give me a contract; that’s the biggest thing. I don’t want to play for free anymore. This year, it was like, ‘OK, I’ll do whatever.’ But I think I’ve earned… a contract.”
There isn’t any specification about how much he wants on his next deal, but it’s certainly more than the $2.5 million he earned last year. Howard could command a deal that is closer to $10 million annually, but there isn’t any clarity if the Lakers will offer him that.
The Lakers will have some financial flexibility with Avery Bradley expected to decline his $5 million next season, while Rajon Rondo will likely do the same with his $2.69 million option. It will likely require LA to meet Howard somewhere near what he wants.
Other teams could swoop into the picture
The LA Lakers will likely not be the only team in the picture targeting Dwight Howard’s services in free agency.
Early reports have suggested that the Golden State Warriors could make a hard push to sign him. The Warriors may prefer any potential deal to be on the lower end of the spectrum with pay.
Golden State can provide him a stable role in the frontcourt that could see him garner a starting spot. It will likely come down to how much the Lakers value him with their next contract offer.
With the start of free agency a couple of days away, much clarity will quickly form on this front.