Since being drafted as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, Dwight Howard has turned into one of the most dominant big men in the league. Howard was selected as an NBA All-Star eight times from 2007-2014 and earned the Defensive Player of the Year award thrice. In the years he spent playing for legitimate title contenders, Howard tried to insist on having a bigger role, which resulted in clashes with other NBA superstars like Kobe Bryant on the Los Angeles Lakers and James Harden on the Houston Rockets.
His unpleasant history with the team didn’t prevent the Lakers from bringing Dwight Howard back in the 2019 NBA free agency. After DeMarcus Cousins suffered an ACL injury, the Lakers immediately held a workout and gave Howard a non-guaranteed contract. Though his lone season wearing the Purple-and-Gold was a huge disaster, Lakers Head Coach Frank Vogel said in a recent interview with Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet, which is currently available on Twitter, that they are very confident that Howard will fully embrace the role as a “role player” in the 2019-20 NBA season.
“Well I’m definitely confident he can play the role what we’ve laid out for him,” Vogel said, as quoted by SB Nation’s Silver Screen And Roll. “He’s coming to the Lakers at a very different time in his career. The first time he was here, he was on top of the NBA mountain and was a bonafide superstar. Things have changed; he’s later in his career now—he’s a different person, has a different mindset. We feel really good about where he’s at as a person and he’s going to serve a different role. It’s going to be more of a role player type of role as opposed to being a lead.”
During his workout, Coach Frank Vogel, his staffs, and some of their players spent some time to personally see if Dwight Howard could really be trusted and be a good fit on their roster. In a meeting with players and Lakers’ officials, Howard reportedly explained how he hit “rock bottom” with the Washington Wizards last season and expressed his willingness to find a new mindset in life to find success on and off the court.
Dwight Howard told the Lakers the things he’s willing to change to become a reliable contributor for the team in the 2019-20 NBA season. Howard said that he would do anything that is asked of him, no matter the role, and be held accountable at all times. Giving Howard a second chance won’t be a huge gamble for the Lakers. If he manages to put his words into action, he will definitely be a big help for the Lakers next season. If he doesn’t, the Lakers could easily waive his contract and find another replacement for DeMarcus Cousins.