Given the rampant rumors of friction with Kobe Bryant and poor chemistry with other teammates that circulated when Dwight Howard was with the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2012-13 season, all eyes are on the former All-NBA big man as he prepares for his second stint with the team. And while many remain concerned whether Howard would be able to gel with his Lakers teammates in the coming 2018-19 season, one former Washington Wizards teammate recently admitted that he didn’t have any issues with the eight-time All-Star, except for the time when he became “distant.”
Speaking to TMZ Sports, Phoenix Suns forward Kelly Oubre Jr. – who played for the Wizards in the first half of the 2018-19 season – recalled his time teaming up with Howard, calling him a good teammate and a “psychological dude.” The 23-year-old former first-round draft pick also described the recently signed Lakers big man as “very down to earth,” stressing that he was “never” a distraction in the locker room.
While Oubre was mostly positive in his recollection of Howard as a Wizards teammate, he admitted to TMZ Sports that the 33-year-old big man was a “little distant,” noting that it was understandable he wasn’t too engaged with his teammates at that point because his season had been cut short by injuries. The outlet also observed that Oubre didn’t seem “worried” about Howard’s past reputation as a player who “rubbed previous teammates the wrong way.”
As recalled by ClutchPoints, Dwight Howard was sidelined for the rest of the 2018-19 season after undergoing a lumbar microdiscectomy in November. At that point, he had played just nine games for Washington, posting 12.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game and registering a field goal shooting percentage of 62.3 percent. He was traded earlier this summer to the Memphis Grizzlies, weeks before the Lakers – then reeling from DeMarcus Cousins’ potentially season-ending ACL injury – showed interest in him, thus necessitating a buyout of his contract.
Our NBA Insider @ShamsCharania reports Dwight Howard will wear No. 39 next season in his return to the Lakers.
First look: pic.twitter.com/RnyjRchwKp
— Stadium (@Stadium) August 26, 2019
With Howard now signed to the Lakers on a one-year, non-guaranteed contract, he will be competing with fellow veteran JaVale McGee for minutes at the center position. However, Forbes pointed out that this contract suggests the Lakers are “not fully convinced” about Howard’s claims that he has matured significantly since his tumultuous one-year stint with the team in 2012-13 and the journeyman path his career had taken since that point.
“Averaging double-digits in points and rebounds will win the city over. Doing so while maintaining locker-room decorum will convince the NBA that Dwight Howard is back for more than just one brief Hollywood cameo,” Forbes‘ Gabe Zaldivar added.