Even as the Lakers return to the practice facility for physically distanced, individual workouts, the team still doesn’t know if Dwight Howard will be joining them at Disney World. Jared Dudley, who was one of the players at the facility on Friday, is trying to remain optimistic.
“We hope Dwight comes. We need Dwight,” Dudley said on a Zoom call with reporters.
However, Dudley also said that he, like everyone else involved with the Lakers who has spoken out so far, will understand if Howard decides to join teammate Avery Bradley — who is skipping the league’s restart out of concern for the health of his son — in sitting out.
“They’re friends of mine, we’re all good friends... One thing you have to respect in life is family, regardless. Everyone’s family is so different,” Dudley said. “Obviously both of them have different perspectives and different things. We respect it.”
Dion Waiters, Jared Dudley and LeBron were all back in the gym today: pic.twitter.com/C9UMqx6OhB— Silver Screen & Roll (@LakersSBN) July 3, 2020
Part of Howard’s different perspective is, at least in part, that the mother of one of his children died of an epileptic seizure in March. Howard has been taking care of their son since, and is reportedly still in Atlanta at his home even as his team regroups at the UCLA Health Training Center in El Segundo. The Lakers are still uncertain if he’ll ultimately meet them at Disney World when they travel there on July 9, and teammate Danny Green has hinted that death isn’t the only thing Howard is dealing with.
Dudley, who has been an outspoken proponent of the league restarting for economic reasons, still says he completely respects anyone who doesn’t feel the same way.
“For us, life is more important. We’d love to have them, but I don’t have any ill will for anyone who wants to sit out. Me personally, where I’m at, I feel comfortable,” Dudley said. “It’d be different if my wife didn’t want me to go, but for them it’s a little bit different.”
If Howard does sit out, it will gut the Lakers’ depth at center, and force Vogel to get creative with his lineups. But for now, all the Lakers can do is prepare as much as they can, and be ready to go to war with who they have.
Dudley just hopes Howard will be joining them.
“It’ll be a little bit different without Avery, or with any teammate not being there potentially, but Dwight I know there is still hope and still a chance,” Dudley said. “We’re hoping to see him down there.”