The Los Angeles Lakers may be set to bring in Dwight Howard on a non-guaranteed contract, but there are still a lot of questions surrounding that choice.
It sounds like Howard had a really good workout for the team, and that he’ll be entering the season in great shape, but as has been noted repeatedly in this space over the past 24 hours since the news that the Lakers would bring Howard back leaked, the concern with Dwight has never been his physical abilities or raw talent.
No, the Lakers were going to need to know that Howard would stay within the role that just helped the team, and not start demanding more minutes or touches at the first opportunity. Their concern over him doing so is reflected in his contract not being guaranteed, but according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Howard at least made some progress on convincing the Lakers’ two best players that he’s changed his approach since his first time in Los Angeles:
He wanted redemption in L.A., too, after how his lone season alongside Kobe Bryant went. He wanted to be part of a championship team, and he was willing to do whatever was asked of him, no matter the role, and be held accountable at all times, Howard told them.
The Lakers had gathered momentum in their own research into Howard over the past week, but needed the roster to be fully on board. Howard won over the players in the locker room, including James and Davis, for his approach and mindset in the visit, sources said.
“He’s determined the make this the best opportunity by winning a title,” one source said.
As with everything else we’ve heard on Howard since the Lakers’ decision to bring him back leaked, this is reason for cautious optimism about this addition, but still doesn’t mean that bringing back Howard is something the team thinks is a guaranteed boon. If they did, they would have guaranteed his contract.
Still, James appearing to buy what Howard is selling is at least somewhat meaningful. James has been around long enough to know Howard’s reputation, to have played with mutual teammates, and to understand the risk factors here. If he’s even partially been “won over” by the way Howard is approaching this opportunity, it’s a good sign, because one would think he’d be able to detect BS pretty well by this point in his career.
Again though, none of this means that the Howard signing is guaranteed to help. This could all go south next month and the Lakers could cut him with no salary cap penalty. But as things stand right now, it’s still good news that Howard seems to have genuinely convinced quite a few people that he’s changed his ways, and is committed to just doing the things that help the team. All the right things are being said so far, now we just have to wait and see if this is the time Howard delivers on them.