In the aftermath of the devastating news that DeMarcus Cousins suffered a torn ACL earlier this week, the Los Angeles Lakers are expected to sign a free agent center sooner rather than later. While they could just sign someone that’s available like Joakim Noah, Zaza Pachulia or Salah Mejri, they reportedly have eyes for a player that’s currently under contract with another team: Dwight Howard.
According to Rohan Nadkarni of Sports Illustrated, the Lakers have expressed serious interest in signing the 33-year-old center to backup JaVale McGee:
A name I’m hearing the Lakers are seriously interested in after the Boogie Cousins injury: Dwight Howard.— Rohan Nadkarni (@RohanNadkarni) August 17, 2019
The Grizzlies haven’t bought him out yet, but he’s not expected to play in Memphis this season. Javale McGee is the only other center on LA’s roster.
Howard was traded to the Grizzlies in a salary dump involving veteran wing C.J. Miles in July, but according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Memphis plans on waiving Howard at some point. When he becomes available, it sounds like the Lakers will be interested.
The question is: Would he be a good option for Los Angeles to replace Cousins? In short, no.
Even if one were to ignore the ugly history between Howard and the Lakers, he’s simply just not a very good basketball player anymore. Last season, he appeared in just nine games with the Washington Wizards and while he was able to average a respectable 12.8 point and 9.2 rebounds in 25.6 minutes per game during that time, he posted a box plus-minus of -5.2. For context, Moe Wagner posted a box plus-minus of -5.1 for the Lakers last season, which was the third-worst on the team.
Granted, it’s a small sample size, but it’s one that’s consistent with Howard’s production over the last few years. After all, someone doesn’t get traded seven times in three years because he’s valuable.
Howard might still have something left in the tank, but the Lakers aren’t in a position to gamble on a player who’s less than a year removed from back surgery, or should I say: they’re not in a position to do that again.