Dwight Howard is signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, the big man's agent tells The Athletic's Shams Charania. The deal will presumably be for the minimum salary. The Lakers simply could not afford to invest more in the center position after vaulting far above the cap by trading for Russell Westbrook. Howard has now made the minimum three seasons in a row, including the 2019-20 season that he spent with the Lakers.
That season was an undeniable success for Howard in purple and gold. After a disappointing 2012-13 season with the Lakers led to him departing for Houston, Howard returned as a backup and completely bought into his new supporting role. He thrived as a backup rim protector, shot-blocker and dunker without demanding any touches on offense. He won a championship in that first return to the Lakers. Now, both sides are hoping for a repeat performance.
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Howard had initially hoped that would come last season. When free agency opened, he tweeted that he would be returning to the Lakers. However, he soon deleted that tweet and ultimately landed as Joel Embiid's backup with the Philadelphia 76ers. It was later reported that the Lakers had not made him a firm offer, but had only discussed terms of a possible reunion. Instead, the Lakers used their mid-level exception to sign Montrezl Harrell and later added Marc Gasol as their new starter at center. They simply didn't have minutes for three centers. That was proven by the inconsistent roles all three centers had after Andre Drummond arrived in the middle of the season.
But with Harrell dealt in the Westbrook deal and Drummond's contract expiring after the season, the Lakers had an opening at center. Now it will be filled by a very familiar face as the Lakers attempt to make it back to the top of the mountain.