Due to DeMarcus Cousins’ potentially season-ending ACL injury last week, the Los Angeles Lakers are now painfully lacking at the center position, with JaVale McGee the only remaining true center on the team’s healthy roster. Most reports in recent days have hinted at Dwight Howard’s potential return to the Lakers for the first time since his difficult 2012-13 stint with the team ended, with others suggesting that Los Angeles is also interested in another aging center, erstwhile free agent Joakim Noah. However, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst believes that the Lakers have other plans in mind when it comes to their search for Cousins’ replacement.
As quoted by ClutchPoints, Windhorst appeared on a recent episode of ESPN’s SportsCenter, where he explained that the Lakers are simply doing “due diligence” by inquiring about Howard – who is currently under contract with the Memphis Grizzlies – and Noah. Specifically talking about the chances of Howard returning to Los Angeles, Windhorst added that a potential reunion between both sides is not a “very likely marriage,” mainly because of the 33-year-old former All-NBA big man’s age and his status as one of the NBA’s most traded players in recent years.
“Dwight Howard has been on four different teams in the last four years. The Lakers are in need of somebody who can be healthy and give them minutes and that doesn’t fit who Dwight Howard or Joakim Noah are at this point of their careers,” Windhorst said.
“But I understand why the Lakers have those names on the list. I think this is unlikely. I believe the Lakers coaches want a younger, more active player at this point in their careers.”
While Windhorst was not quoted as mentioning any specific younger players who could be targeted by the Lakers as a potential replacement for DeMarcus Cousins, Howard does have a proven track record as an eight-time All-Star who’s played 15 seasons in the NBA. However, many have opined that Howard fell off from his once-elite status as one of the NBA’s best big men soon after his eight-year run with the Orlando Magic ended in the summer of 2012.
As the Lakers’ starting center in 2012-13, Howard averaged 17.1 points and 12.4 rebounds and shot 57.8 percent from the field, though as SBNation noted in 2015, his one-season stint with the team was marred by a feud with fellow superstar Kobe Bryant that disrupted team chemistry. As such, the Lakers were eliminated in the first round of the 2013 playoffs despite being touted prior to the 2012-13 season as a potential championship contender.
Following his one season with the Lakers, Howard saw action for the Houston Rockets for three seasons and played one year each for the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, and Washington Wizards. However, his stint with the Wizards lasted just nine games, as he averaged just 12.8 points and 9.2 rebounds before undergoing back surgery in November 2018.