The Los Angeles Lakers were thrown a curve ball even before training camp commenced. The recent news pertaining to the ACL injury sustained by new recruit DeMarcus Cousins means that the Lakers need to look elsewhere for help in their frontcourt, and they did just that by agreeing to a deal with Dwight Howard on Friday.
JaVale McGee, who himself signed an extension with L.A. this summer, will now have a clear path to the starting center gig, but beyond him, how much depth do the Lakers really have at the five spot? Anthony Davis can slot in at the five, but the former New Orleans Pelicans cornerstone superstar himself has admitted that given a choice, this is not something he would prefer.
So after McGee and Cousins, the Lakers actually have a grand total of zero players that are natural centers. This only means that given how Boogie is expected to miss a good chunk of the upcoming season, signing a new big man is now an absolute must for the team.
Now former Memphis Grizzlies veteran center Dwight Howard, himself a former Laker, was identified as one of the potential candidates for the empty spot before his deal Friday. The Grizzlies reportedly gave L.A. the green light to enter discussions with the former Defensive Player of the Year winner, so this move is actually gaining steam. However, given his forgettable history with the team, coupled with his inability to stay healthy over the past few years, not a lot of folks are willing to jump on the Howard bandwagon just yet.
The Lakers still had a fair amount of options in the market, and below we will present some of the more noteworthy names that the team should have considered before finally settling on big Dwight.
The one man that stands out in this particular search is Joakim Noah, a former former Defensive Player of the Year winner as well. He has already been linked with the Lakers, which indicates that the team must be at the very least have considered bringing on the 34-year-old as a Plan B.
Noah made a bit of a comeback last season, playing 42 games for the Grizzlies, and averaging 7.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.5 steals, and 0.7 blocks in just 16.5 minutes per contest. The two-time All-Star appears to be back in game shape as it is, and he should be a good fit for the current Lakers squad.
How about taking a chance on a 34-year-old Andrew Bogut? Last year, the one-time NBA champion spent the most part of his season dominating the local league in his native of Australia. The Golden State Warriors came knocking, and he would eventually end up suiting up 11 times for the Dubs after signing late in the season.
Things did not exactly work out for Bogut and L.A. the first time around (he signed with the team in the summer of 2017, but would eventually be waived by the Lakers mid-season), but perhaps a second chance would have worked for the two parties.
After a tremendous first six seasons in the league as a perennial double-double threat, Greg Monroe’s career slowly regressed into irrelevance. Last season, the former seventh overall pick bounced around between three different teams, but he would end up finishing the year with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Monroe didn’t do much last season, but during his extremely limited spell with the Sixers (he averaged 13.7 points on 65.2 percent shooting, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in just three games played), the 29-year-old did still show some signs of life. He is far from the man he used to be while with the Detroit Pistons, but maybe the Lakers would’ve gotten what they needed from Monroe as a back-up big.
There are actually a number of other guys available in the market including the likes of Kenneth Faried, Nene, Amir Johnson, and Tyler Zeller, to name a few. Heck, LeBron James might even be able to convince former teammate Channing Frye to come out of retirement.
The fact of the matter, however, is that despite his unsavory history with the franchise, Howard was a viable option for the Lakers. This might not be something L.A. faithful will necessarily agree on, but sometimes, you just have to let bygones be bygones.
Still, the Lakers front office still had plenty of solid alternatives available. It’s not a very deep pool by any means and time was of the essence, so perhaps that’s why they settled on Dwight.
This is certainly going to be an interesting situation to monitor as he gets back in the Purple and Gold, and we will be sure to pass along any new information as they come along, so stay tuned here.