Dwight Howard is back with the Los Angeles Lakers, and we are starting to get the first details on why exactly that is (at least beyond them needing a replacement for the injured DeMarcus Cousins).
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Howard showed up to the Lakers’ practice facility a day before his workout with the team was scheduled, something that impressed the team, and was followed up with by an equally (or more) impressive workout:
“Dwight didn’t need to be here the day before the actual workout,” one source said, “but he was.”
When Thursday arrived, Howard had a workout in which the Lakers believed he looked healthy and fit. “Amazing,” said a source present in the gym.
Just how amazing was Howard’s workout? Again according to Charania, the team personnel in attendance thought he approached it with the zeal of a college player fighting for a spot in the NBA, and his camp is making it clear that he wants this second chance to deliver for the Lakers in a way he couldn’t the first time around:
By the end of Howard’s stay in L.A. on Thursday night, the Lakers saw a player entering his 16th season treating this visit as if it were a predraft workout. Now it’s on Howard to show the Lakers they put their trust in the right place.
Howard wants the responsibility of living up to his words and actions. Finally, this could be a moment that caps his career in the best possible way. It could be the ultimate redemption story of a player failing in his first go-around with the Lakers and attempting to win a championship on the tail end.
Howard is making up for lost time in L.A., and as one source close to him says: “Dwight is ready. He can’t wait.”
All that sounds great, but this is where a couple things have to be pointed out. For one thing, if Howard’s workout was really that impressive, the team would have just guaranteed his contract rather than bringing him in on a non-guaranteed deal. All of these leaks are meant to make Howard look good and justify the Lakers bringing him back, but while there is no doubt his workout must have been decent if the team signed him, it clearly wasn’t good enough to make the Lakers think that locking him up was such a no-brainer that they were sure they wanted him around the whole year.
That all noted, Howard’s risk factors aren’t necessarily things you can see in a workout. Just because he wasn’t good enough to fully assuage any concerns about his commitment to sticking in the role the Lakers want him to play doesn’t necessarily mean that he wasn’t good in that open gym setting.
And if Howard is actually in as stellar of shape as has been reported and has his head in the right place in regards to just doing the things that help the team win, then he could actually end up being a helpful addition. It’s just too early to call that a guarantee, no matter how good he was in one workout, or how early he showed up for it. Because if it could be guaranteed at this point, Howard’s contract would be too.