His first stint in LA didn’t go very well, as he played for the Lakers during the 2012-13 campaign and contributed heavily to what was a toxic locker room, resulting in Los Angeles just barely making the playoffs and losing in the first round.
Howard then bolted for the Houston Rockets that summer.
Now, Howard is a forgotten man in an NBA that has changed drastically since he entered the league in 2004, so much so that he is considered a liability at this stage, a remarkable turnaround from when he was considered a top-five player in the league less than a decade ago.
But even if he isn’t even close to what he used to be due to injuries and a different league, Howard still holds some value, and he might actually fit well on the Clippers.
Right now, the Clips look like the best club in basketball. They have a dynamic duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, plus some other really good role players like Montrezl Harrell, Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams. They have a veteran coach in Doc Rivers. They could very well be one of the best defensive teams we have seen in years.
But if there is one weakness Los Angeles has, it is frontcourt depth.
Ivica Zubac is currently slated to be the starter, and while he is a fine offensive player and rebounder, he likely won’t play 30 minutes a night due to his defensive deficiencies.
Behind him, there is JaMychal Green, who is more of a power forward than a center, and rookie big man Mfiondu Kabengele. Harrell can play some minutes at the 5, as well, but while he certainly has the length to be just fine, bigger centers can push him around.
So, the Clippers could really use some bulk up front, which is where Howard comes in.
Yes, he is coming off his second back surgery, and yes, he is a 33-year-old who seems to have the maturity of a 19-year-old rookie. But Howard swears he has grown up and seems willing to accept a lesser role, obviously understanding the fact that his best years are long behind him.
If Howard is a good soldier and if he is healthy, he could actually be a pretty big asset for a contending team in limited minutes.
Clearly, those are two pretty big “ifs,” because Howard saying he has matured and him actually showing he has matured are two entirely different things. Plus, he has had back issues since 2011, so we don’t really know just how right his back is.
But honestly, it’s worth a shot. What’s the worst thing that can happen? He would likely sign on a minimum deal, so if he causes problems or just flat-out stinks, the Clippers can always release him.
There is a very good chance the Clippers will have to get through teams like the Lakers and Utah Jazz out West, and both of those teams have big men who can hurt teams inside. The Lakers have DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis, who can ravage most of the league in the post, and the Jazz have Gobert, who will eat smaller frontcourts alive on the glass.
Adding Howard would certainly help the Clippers in defending bigs like Cousins, Davis and Gobert, and even though the Clips will be just fine regardless, bringing in a massive dude like Howard might be of big help.
Again, there really is no risk here. Either Howard will play well in a limited role and will elevate the Clippers even further, or he will be terrible, in which the Clips can just send him packing.