DeAndre Jordan is out and Dwight Howard is in as the Los Angeles Lakers' starting center, at least for now. Lakers coach Frank Vogel told reporters Thursday that Howard will get the start against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, and that, moving forward, they will only have one center in the rotation. (This does not include Anthony Davis, who is one of the best big men in the league but has always preferred to play next to another big.)
"Trying to play both of those guys in really short minutes, it didn't really feel easy for one to get into a rhythm," Vogel said, per Silver Screen and Roll's Harrison Feigen, "so we made a decision to only use one of them unless, obviously, we had foul trouble or whatnot. And it was DeAndre for a bit. I decided in the middle of the first quarter of last game that I wanted to see what Dwight could do and it was Dwight for the rest of that game. And I do intend to start Dwight tomorrow against the Clippers, and it will be a situation where we just monitor really on a game-to-game basis going forward, but with the intention of just giving those center minutes to one player and not two. Whether it's DeAndre or Dwight."
Jordan was in the starting lineup for Tuesday's game against the Sacramento Kings, but Vogel pulled him after just four minutes. Howard, who had not played at all in the previous game against the Detroit Pistons, ended up logging 35 minutes and finishing with 12 points, 13 rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Before that, Howard had not played more than 23 minutes in a game this season.
Unless you have an unhealthy obsession with defensive rebounding, it is difficult to make the case that Jordan should have stayed in the starting five. On the season, the Lakers have scored an abysmal 96.6 points per 100 possessions with him on the court, and, when paired with Avery Bradley, who was starting in the backcourt before hurting his thumb in recent days, they have scored just 91.8 per 100, a truly horrifying number. Howard is a similar sort of player, and starting him risks putting the other team in the bonus halfway through first quarters, but Los Angeles has been fine offensively in his minutes.
Other Lakers news: Vogel said Bradley won't need surgery on his thumb, and if he plays on Friday, he'll be wearing a splint, Bill Oram of The Athletic reports. Trevor Ariza, who has yet to make his season debut, practiced for the first time on Thursday, but only took part in the non-contact portion of it.
Los Angeles is 12-11 on the season. It is 23rd in offensive rating, 19th in defensive rating and 23rd in point differential, per Cleaning The Glass. LeBron James has only played in 11 games and was following two negative PCR tests.