The Lakers are expected to request permission from the Grizzlies to meet with Howard regarding a potential union, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic reports. After Memphis acquired his rights from Washington in July, Howard is on the Grizzlies' books for the 2019-20 campaign, but the team is expected to release him before the upcoming season. Since Memphis recognizes that Howard isn't part of their future plans, the organization may just be doing him a favor by allowing him to meet with Los Angeles, which has clear need for added depth at center after DeMarcus Cousins (knee) suffered a season-ending ACL tear in a workout last week. Howard apparently has interest in rejoining the Lakers, with whom he spent a tumultuous 2012-13 campaign. Now 33 years old and returning from back surgery, Howard likely wouldn't be asked to play major minutes behind JaVale McGee, who would presumably start at center if the Lakers commit to using Anthony Davis as a power forward.
Howard (back) said in a recent interview with Shams Charania of The Athletic that he has lost 25 pounds since the 2018-19 season ended and added that he has received full clearance for all on-court activities. The eight-time All-Star was limited to just nine appearances last season with the Wizards, averaging 12.8 points and 9.2 boarsd in 25.6 minutes per game before requiring season-ending back surgery. Though the 33-year-old Howard now has a clean bill of health, the fact that he's already undergone multiple back procedures during his career doesn't inspire the utmost confidence in his ability to hold up to an 82-game schedule. Moreover, Howard no longer looks to be an ideal fit in the modern NBA and now finds himself on his fifth team in as many years after the Wizards shipped him to the Grizzles earlier this month. He could be in search of a new home soon, as the Grizzlies are expected to waive him at some point before the start of the upcoming campaign.
Howard was traded to the Grizzlies on Friday in exchange for CJ Miles, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports. Howard was limited to just nine appearances last season after dealing with a back injury that ultimately required surgery. The trade saves Memphis $3.1 million in cap space, and the team seemingly plans to trade or waive Howard. When Howard played in 81 games for Charlotte in 2017-18, he averaged 30.4 minutes, 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game.
Howard (back) informed the Wizards on Friday that he would exercise his $5.6 million player option for 2019-20, Zach Lowe of ESPN.com reports. Limited to just nine appearances in his first season in Washington due to a back injury that ultimately required surgery, Howard wasn't likely to find any team willing to pay him $5.6 million had he explored free agency. He thus determined it was in his best interest to exercise his option, ensuring that he'll be back with the Wizards for another season. Though Washington envisioned Howard serving as a stopgap starter at center heading into last season, it's unclear if the 33-year-old will get the opportunity to even compete for a top-unit role if he returns to training camp at full health. Thomas Bryant flashed an intriguing skill set at center during his second NBA season, and the Wizards might not be willing to reduce his playing time in 2019-20 to accommodate Howard. Washington may also bolster its frontcourt through free agency, trade or the draft, which would further reduce Howard's chances of re-emerging as an impact player.
Coach Scott Brooks said that it's "pretty safe to say" that Howard (back) won't return this season, Candace Buckner of The Washington Post reports. With the Wizards sitting outside of the playoff picture going into the last week of the season, the Wizards seem to be content letting Howard miss the last few games. He's still limited to just non-contact work, meaning he's likely still got quite a bit of progress to make before he'd be ready to return. With Howard expected to miss the remainder of the season, Bobby Portis and Thomas Bryant should continue to see the bulk of the workload at center.
Last 7 Games
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