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Frank Vogel says Dwight Howard understands he’ll be ‘more of a role player’ with Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel is excited to see Dwight Howard play for the Purple and Gold this upcoming season.

Howard signed a one-year, non-guaranteed deal with the Lakers. While it wasn’t an easy journey — after having to convince team executives and players that he’s already a changed man — Dwight impressed LA’s top brass and showed his commitment to avoid the mistakes he made in his first stint with the team.

However, unlike the first time, Howard won’t be the first or second option for the Lakers. According to multiple reports, he will play a limited role with the team and serve as a backup to JaVale McGee. Vogel confirmed this in a recent interview with Spectrum SportsNet, saying that Dwight understands what he needs to do for the team next season.

“Well I’m definitely confident he can play the role what we’ve laid out for him. He’s coming to the Lakers at a very different time in his career,” Vogel said, via SB Nation. “The first time he was here, he was on top of the NBA mountain and was a bonafide superstar. Things have changed; he’s later in his career now—he’s a different person, has a different mindset.

“We feel really good about where he’s at as a person and he’s going to serve a different role. It’s going to be more of a role player type of role as opposed to being a lead. He understands that, he’s excited about playing that type of role on this team and what we can accomplish as a group, so we’re excited about what he’s going to bring to the table.”

Not that he had a choice, but according to Vogel, Howard was the one who told the team he’s willing to play any role to help them win.

“It is challenging and you have to sort of measure where they’re at mentally. Some guys are not willing to let go of that and they’re intent or still carrying the belief that they’re still the star and anything short of that is not going to work,” Vogel furthered.

“That’s sort of what the interview process was like with Dwight when we brought him in for his workout and had conversations with him — just measuring where he is from a mindset standpoint and we feel really good about where he’s at.”

Still, if Howard will be all-talk and no-walk from this point forward, the Lakers won’t hesitate to cut him. The team can easily get rid of his contract when they feel the need to, so that should give him a sense of urgency to give his 100 percent on a daily basis.

If this works out, both Howard and the Lakers will benefit from it. Dwight will be able to show he’s still one of the best bigs in the league, while LA will get a double-double from him from time to time, especially if his minutes increase at some point during the season.