When the Los Angeles Lakers unexpectedly brought back Dwight Howard this past summer, it was done with the understanding that his salary would be non-guaranteed until Jan. 10.
At the time, the belief was that Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka negotiated Howard’s contract to be non-guaranteed so that the team could ties with him if he didn’t buy into his role, but apparently that wasn’t the case. During an appearance on ESPN’s “The Jump,” senior writer Ramona Shelburne said that it was Howard and his agent that suggested that his contract be non-guaranteed (emphasis mine):
“I think with Dwight, it also goes back to why the Lakers signed that contract with him that way in the first place. Dwight asked for that. That was his idea. That wasn’t the Lakers saying ‘oh this is the only way we’ll do it.’ This was Dwight and his agent saying ‘yes, we’ll do non-guaranteed just to show you how committed we are to being this kind of player.’”
This small detail is important because it changes the narrative from “the Lakers gave Howard a short leash” to “Howard was so confident in himself that he was willing to leave guaranteed money on the table.” The latter of the two shows Howard’s humility, which has shined through in his first 23 games back with L.A.
Ultimately, the Lakers still have full control of Howard’s future, but his bet on himself has paid off for him so far and next month he’ll likely be rewarded with a fully guaranteed $2.56 million salary.
For someone that wasn’t a shoe-in to have an NBA job this season in August, that’s not too shabby. If he continues to play at the level he’s currently playing at, he should be able to get a nice raise next summer.