After losing All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins to an injury, the Los Angeles Lakers decided to bring Dwight Howard back to fill the hole that was left in their frontcourt. The Lakers initially gave Howard a non-guaranteed deal to see if he’s really a good fit on their roster. From the time the 2019-20 NBA season started, Howard has managed to impress despite receiving limited playing time and mostly coming off the bench, making the Lakers decide to hand him a guaranteed contract on January 10.
With his current performance in the 2019-20 NBA season, Howard didn’t only prove that the Lakers made the right decision to give him another chance, but he also showed everyone in the league that he still has plenty of gas left in his tank. However, if the Lakers want to get Howard’s service for another season, Sean Deveney of Heavy believes that they should be willing to offer him more than a veteran minimum deal in the 2020 NBA free agency.
“Howard has earned a chance to stick with the Lakers, but the question would become, how much are the Lakers willing to pay out for him? Howard surely won’t be available for the veterans’ minimum next summer. According to one NBA front-office executive, Howard has played well enough this season to early, ‘a good part,’ of a team’s mid-level exception. The exception is expected to be worth $9.7 million and if Howard can command a deal at about $7 million, he would either chew up most of their limited cap space or take the bulk of the Lakers’ mid-level exception.”
Howard has undeniably played a major role in the Lakers’ success in the 2019-20 NBA season and his presence in Los Angeles will likely be more valuable when the real battle begins in the 2020 NBA Playoffs. However, re-signing Howard in the 2020 NBA free agency will not be the Lakers’ top priority next summer. Aside from Howard, one of their best players, Anthony Davis, will also become an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Though multiple signs are pointing out that Davis is inking a new deal with the Purple and Gold, he is expected to demand a huge raise, from $25 million this year to $35 million next year. Giving Davis a max contract in the 2019-20 NBA season may not put the Lakers over the luxury tax line, but there are still other players that they should think about in the summer of 2020, Rajon Rondo and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who could both opt out of their current contracts and hit the free agency market.
Even if the Lakers fail to re-sign Howard, they still have JaVale McGee left on their roster. Also, after spending the entire season recovering from an injury, the Lakers may be able to convince Cousins to sign a veteran minimum deal again next summer.