NBA Rumors: JaVale McGee Not Giving Up Spot To Dwight Howard, ‘I’m The Starting Center For The Lakers’

Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers grabs one of his 26 rebounds in the game, against JaVale McGee #34 of the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center on January 6, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
Stephen Dunn / Getty Images

Though the Los Angeles Lakers failed to end their playoff drought in the 2018-19 NBA season, JaVale McGee still managed to impress in his first year wearing the Purple and Gold. In the 75 games he played, McGee averaged 12.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks, while shooting 62.4 percent from the field. His incredible performance on both ends of the floor made the Lakers decide to award him with a two-year, $8.2 million contract in the 2019 NBA free agency.

Compared to the previous year, there’s no guarantee that JaVale McGee will be part of the Lakers’ starting lineup in the 2019-20 NBA season. Anthony Davis may have expressed his desire to play at the power forward position during the regular season, but McGee will still be needing to battle with Dwight Howard for the role as starting center. However, in an interview with Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet, McGree expressed strong confidence that he will be the “starting center for the Lakers” next season.

“I started last year, so I wouldn’t expect anything less,” McGee said, as quoted by SB Nation’s Silver Screen And Roll. “But it’s definitely not up to me, it’s up to the coach, but I don’t plan on showing him anything other than that I’m the starting center for the Lakers.”

Though they are expected to have an intense showdown in the upcoming training camp, JaVale McGee made it clear that there’s no bad blood existing between him and Dwight Howard. As a matter of fact, McGee told Bresnahan that Howard would be a great fit for the Lakers in the 2019-20 NBA season.

“I feel like he’s going to fit great,” McGee said. “I feel like we have similar games, and the fact that we can have a one-two punch right after each other, coming in right after each other, I don’t think that’s going to be good for other teams at all… Two bigs that can defend the rim, run the floor and dunk it, so I’m excited.”

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The Lakers’ decision to bring Dwight Howard back to Los Angeles has earned mixed reactions this summer. Howard’s previous stint with the Lakers had been filled with drama and frustrations. Though he could immediately fill the hole left by DeMarcus Cousins, some people believe that adding Howard could do more harm than good for the Lakers.

However, during his workout with the Lakers, Howard has managed to convince the Lakers’ players and coaching staffs that he’s already a changed man. Compared to when he first arrived in Los Angeles, Lakers Head Coach Frank Vogel confidently said that Howard is now fully embracing his role as a role player. Howard’s performance in the upcoming training camp will be vital as it will determine if the Lakers will give him a guaranteed contract and make him an official part of their roster in the 2019-20 NBA season.