While Howard is no longer a superstar in the NBA, the future Hall of Famer played his role to a T with the Lakers in 2019-20 by being a rebounding and defensive force all season long. The former Orlando Magic star even started a few games for the Lakers in the playoffs, where the Purple and Gold got all the way to the NBA Finals and defeated the Miami Heat in six games.
Howard was very emotional after winning the championship since he’s been through a lot following his glory days with the Magic coming to an end. The man they used to call “Superman” has now accomplished everything you can ask a player to achieve in the NBA besides winning an MVP award. Howard is an eight-time All-Star, three-time Defensive Player of the Year, has made eight All-NBA teams, five All-Defensive teams and now has a championship under his belt.
When the 2020 free agency period begins, Dwight Howard will be an unrestricted free agent. The Lakers should re-sign him, not only because he proved he still has a lot left in the tank and has put his ego away, but to keep him away from the Warriors.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Warriors are expected to have an interest in signing Howard this offseason. Golden State had the worst record in the NBA in 2019-20 before the season was suspended in March due to COVID-19, but the team will be back in the playoff picture next season with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins leading the way.
The Warriors need a big man alongside Curry, Thompson, Green and Wiggins. Howard would flourish in the Dubs’ system since he would get wide-open looks in the post playing off of Curry and Thompson’s elite shooting skills. Moreover, Green and Howard would likely connect on a bunch of lob plays since Draymond is one of the best passing forwards we have in the NBA and Howard is still really good at rolling to the rim and finishing in heavy traffic.
While the Lakers are favored by the oddsmakers to win the championship again in 2020-21, the Warriors are being dubbed as their biggest threat in the West with the return of Curry and Thompson. With that being said, the Lakers need to re-sign Howard and prevent him from joining the Warriors, who have the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 draft as a result of their putrid 2019-20 campaign.
The last thing Los Angeles wants to do is give the Dubs even more talent, and Howard is still one of the more impactful centers on the defensive end despite his aging body and skills.
Howard averaged 7.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game for the Lakers during the 2019-20 regular season in 69 appearances. He shot 72.9 percent from the field and blocked 1.1 shots per contest. That’s the type of production the Warriors would love to get from their starting center, as Steve Kerr’s group really struggled to rebound the ball and defend at a high level in 2019-20.
The Athletic is reporting that the Lakers and Howard have mutual interest in a deal to bring the former No. 1 overall pick back to Los Angeles. Howard has a good relationship with Lakers superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, as he earned their trust in 2019-20 by being on his best behavior all season and doing whatever head coach Frank Vogel asked of him.
To re-sign Howard, the Lakers will probably have to offer him something above the vet minimum since he was productive in his role. Los Angeles also has to address Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Rajon Rondo’s free agencies, as both players are expected to test the open market whenever the 2020 free agency period begins.
Caldwell-Pope and Rondo were major factors in the Finals against the Heat, so the Lakers have to make sure they bring both of those guys back, as well as Howard. The team had great chemistry throughout the 2019-20 season, as unlike the Los Angeles Clippers, there were no leaks about locker room chemistry issues and guys being jealous of one another.
It was great to see Howard win a championship with the Lakers given he was hated by the fanbase after everything that happened in 2012-13. Now, the franchise should reward the center for his humbleness and hard work in 2019-20 and bring him back.
If the Lakers lose Dwight Howard to the Warriors specifically, they would have to deal with him quite often and maybe see Howard and the Dubs in the 2021 Western Conference playoffs. That is a scenario the Lakers should look to avoid since the Warriors are already going to be very deep and talented in 2020-21.