After helping the Los Angeles Lakers win a championship in the 2019-20 season, Dwight Howard entered free agency late last year and signed with the Philadelphia 76ers, where he currently serves as Joel Embiid’s backup at center. However, it was recently suggested that there might be a way for the Lakers to bring back the three-time Defensive Player of the Year — provided they are willing to part ways with one of their key reserves.
In a report published Monday, NBA Analysis Network‘s Brett Siegel opined that the Lakers have gotten mixed results with the frontcourt players they acquired during the offseason. While Montrezl Harrell has “provided a sense of stability” in his reserve role, Marc Gasol was described as a “big disappointment” on both offense and defense. As pointed out, this is in contrast to how the Lakers’ two centers in 2019-20 — Howard and JaVale McGee — teamed up with Anthony Davis to give Los Angeles a “bruising” group of big men.
According to Siegel, the Lakers could theoretically reacquire Howard for a package including backup guard Alex Caruso and a second-round pick in the 2023 draft. Such a deal, he added, could help the organization regain some of the toughness they had during their last championship season while also allowing Davis to focus more on scoring.
“Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell are not as tough defensively as the Lakers had hoped and as a result, has put all the defensive pressure on Anthony Davis, who is more than capable of being a fantastic defensive player, but the Lakers need him more on the offensive end of the court.”
Although he has recently gotten additional playing time due to the Sixers’ manpower issues, Howard’s production has dipped even further in 11 games with Philadelphia. According to his Basketball-Reference player page, the former No. 1 overall selection is currently averaging 6.5 points and 7.2 rebounds in 16.5 minutes per game and shooting 64.4 percent from the field. Last year, he produced 7.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game while starting only two of the 69 games he appeared in for the Lakers.
As for the Sixers, Siegel wrote that Caruso could help the club because he “does all the little things” to help teams win, despite how he isn’t seen as a skilled ball-handler or playmaker. His ability to shut opposing players down was likewise mentioned as another reason why he could be a good addition to Philly’s roster. At 26 years old, Caruso is also young enough to stick around with the Sixers “for a long time” as a key part of the team’s rotation, the NBA Analysis Network writer added.