NBA rumors: Dwight Howard returns to Lakers

Shams Charania: Free agent center Dwight Howard has agreed to return to the Los Angeles Lakers, his agent Qais Haider tells @TheAthletic @Stadium.

More on Dwight Howard Free Agency

There is a strong possibility that Howard returns for a third go-around with the Lakers. Howard won a title with the Lakers in 2020, but he bolted to the 76ers last season. Now, there appears to be interest on both sides to have Howard back for his physical and defensive play. Howard, 35, averaged 7.0 points and 8.4 rebounds in 17.3 minutes last season in Philadelphia, his 17th in the NBA.
Guess who might be back for a third time? Yup, Dwight Howard is ready to return and play center. Jeff Green and Goran Dragic also are names to look out for.
A league source said Howard was upset because he felt the Lakers reneged on a one-year, $3 million handshake deal, which prompted his tweet. However, Yahoo Sports said sources within the organization were adamant that no formal offer was made, stating it was only a “deal concept.” The miscommunication forced him to delete the tweet.
Free-agent center Dwight Howard was under the impression that he had a one-year, $3 million deal on the table to return to the Los Angeles Lakers, league sources tell Yahoo Sports. This led to the veteran center tweeting out his announcement.
However, sources within the organization are adamant that a formal offer was never made, maintaining that dialogue was merely a “deal concept.” Howard thought if he agreed to the “deal concept” that it was a done deal, sources said. He was forced to delete his tweet.
Marc Stein: Marc Gasol has emerged as a free-agent target for the Lakers to fill the void created by Dwight Howard's departure to Philadelphia, league sources say
Shams Charania: Free agent Dwight Howard has agreed to a one-year deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, his agent Charles Briscoe tells @The Athletic @Stadium.
The Los Angeles Lakers will be first in line to speak with two of their free agents Dwight Howard and Avery Bradley when free agency opens, league sources told HoopsHype. Both players are also expected to draw interest from several contenders as well. Howard has reportedly been linked to the Golden State Warriors, and Bradley has been linked to the Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks thus far.
No, not right now, anyway, at least not above the veteran’s minimum. Howard repaired his reputation with the Lakers last season, accepting a bench role and showing a willingness to sacrifice scoring opportunities to be a defender/rebounder. And he was a key player during the Lakers championship run. However a market for the 34-year old Howard just isn’t there. Howard, in an interview with Basketball News, said he wants to get paid this offseason. But the Lakers may be the only team willing to offer him a contract, much less a more lucrative deal.
Alex Kennedy: Dwight Howard on FA: "I would love to come back and play for the Lakers again. Hopefully, this year, they give me a contract; that's the biggest thing. I don't want to play for free anymore. This year, it was like, 'OK, I'll do whatever.' But I think I've earned... a contract."
How many more years do you feel you can play? Dwight Howard: Physically, I could play until I’m 40. Past 40 if I wanted to. It’s just someone saying we’ll give you that opportunity. I know how to take care of my body. I know what’s needed and what’s not needed. I understand the game because I played in different eras and I can also teach it. I have a lot left in the tank. I’ll never quit on my teammates, I’ll never quit on myself or an organization. There’s been a lot of times where I’m like, ‘F--- it, I’m sick of this s---. I’m sick of being lied on, I’m tired of people saying I’m like this and I’m not.’ I don’t work hard. I’m a bad teammate. All the things that I’m not … all the things I had to go through and stick to the plan.
Howard signed a one-year deal with the Lakers that became guaranteed on January 10. He will be a free agent in July and the Lakers have no special advantages in re-signing him. “I am very happy here,” Howard said of L.A. “I like being here, I am having fun being here. I don’t know what is going to happen in the future but I know I can’t think about that or focus on it. I am just focused on being here.”
According to one NBA front-office executive, Howard has played well enough this season to early, “a good part,” of a team’s mid-level exception. The exception is expected to be worth $9.7 million and if Howard can command a deal at about $7 million, he would either chew up most of their limited cap space or take the bulk of the Lakers’ mid-level exception.
The biggest factor, though, is that Howard has everything to lose. This is his last shot. He was almost out of the league after being waived by the Grizzlies this summer. His saving grace in Los Angeles was DeMarcus Cousins tearing his ACL after unfortunately bumping knees with another player in a scrimmage. Without that, Howard might not be on a roster today. He still has to prove himself. He’s on a one year, non-guaranteed deal and can be dropped at any moment. This is absolutely what rock bottom looks like for a former four-time Defensive Player of the Year. He can’t afford to mess this up. If he does, that might be it.
Mike Trudell: The Lakers announced the signing of center Dwight Howard. The team also annnounced the waiving of forward Aric Holman. Howard played 9 games for Washington last year (12.8 ppg/9.2 rpg in 25.6 minutes). Career averages: 17.4 ppg/12.6 rpg/2.0 bpg.
Bobby Marks: The contract that Dwight Howard will sign in LAL is called a “summer contract” because it has $0 salary protection (comparable to Anthony Bennett in Houston). Howard will earn $14,490 for every day he is on the roster. The per day clock will start on Oct. 21.
Bobby Marks: LAL will likely insert an Exhibit 9 in his contract that will protect the team if Howard suffers an injury during training camp. LAL would only be on the hook for $6K if Howard is injured and waived before the reg. Season.
Shams Charania: Sources: Dwight Howard has cleared waivers and is signing his new Los Angeles Lakers contract now. Howard plans to wear No. 39 as a Laker next season.
Stadium: Our NBA Insider @Shams Charania reports Dwight Howard will wear No. 39 next season in his return to the Lakers. First look:
Michael Wallace: Once Dwight clears waivers, hearing Grizzlies expected to sign former Texas Tech guard Matt Mooney to Exhibit 10 contract next week. Mooney starred in TT's run to NCAA Finals and scored 22pts vs Michigan St. The 6-3 shooter also was among Hawks top summer league scorers in Vegas.
Peter Edmiston: The Grizzlies have officially waived Dwight Howard, who indeed gave back the amount of his minimum (2.56 million) in the buyout agreement with the Grizzlies. He ends up making the same 5.6 mm as he would have otherwise but it will save the Grizzlies nearly 2mm (after off-set).
After completing a contract buyout with the Memphis Grizzlies, Dwight Howard will sign a non-guaranteed contract with the Los Angeles Lakers that comes with a clear message, league sources told ESPN: Disrupt this team -- and you'll be gone.
In meetings with Lakers management, coaches and teammates -- including Anthony Davis -- late this week, Howard sold himself as an eight-time All-Star who had hit "rock bottom," in the words of one team source, and promised that he'd humbly accept the responsibility to rebound and block shots for the Lakers.
He showed the Lakers that his surgically repaired back was healthy and that he had lost 25 pounds to get into better condition, and ultimately the Lakers chose him over Joakim Noah, sources said.
When fate and circumstance intervene, the results can be quite interesting. For the LA Lakers and Dwight Howard to reconnect, the word interesting is probably an understatement. Howard reached an agreement on a contract buyout with the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday and will sign a one-year, non-guaranteed $2.6 million deal with the Lakers once he clears waivers, league sources told The Athletic.
After the Lakers and Briscoe were given permission to seek the opportunity by the Grizzlies, Howard and Kidd were able to connect in person, league sources told The Athletic. They discussed life, their playing days together, the possibility of Howard joining the Lakers. Howard’s message to Kidd and the Lakers was the same one he delivered to The Athletic in July from NBA summer league: He’s learned from the past several seasons, learned that, at age 33, he is simply one of the guys now. Howard believes he can contribute at a high level for any NBA team, but the eight-time All-Star also understands he has to focus on rebounding, defense, blocking shots, finishing around the rim and simply playing whenever he is asked. He has accepted it — as much as those in the basketball community have doubted his words.
The Lakers then began setting workouts for free agents, and Howard traveled from Atlanta to Los Angeles on Wednesday. His meeting and workout with the Lakers was set for Thursday, but Howard went to the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo, Calif., on Wednesday afternoon for his own training session. The Lakers were surprised to see him, sources said, and many key decision makers were in attendance.
The impromptu workout led to some informal dialogue among Howard and several Lakers officials, league sources said. “Dwight didn’t need to be here the day before the actual workout,” one source said, “but he was.” When Thursday arrived, Howard had a workout in which the Lakers believed he looked healthy and fit. “Amazing,” said a source present in the gym.
League sources said Howard had a convincing and emotional meeting with the players and Lakers officials, explaining how he had reached rock bottom a season ago and needed to find a new mindset in his life. On and off the floor. He was not the teammate he needed to be in playing for three teams in the past three years. He did not take the game seriously enough, he did not understand what was needed to turn the corner.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Howard came to meet Lakers after dropping 25 pounds; showed his back was healthy. Lakers want him to protect rim/rebound in limited role. There was sense Howard realized he hit "rock bottom" and had been humbled. Still they'll judge him on actions, not words. He's been warned.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Lakers are entering a Howard partnership with caution. For years, he's talked about making changes in how he interacts with coaches and teammates. He's still saying those things now, but the ability to cut him without cost keeps leverage with organization.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Lakers completed workouts and meetings with Dwight Howard and Joakim Noah on Thursday and have Mo Speights at the team’s facility today, league sources tell ESPN. Both Howard and Noah left impressions that they could be helpful to the team.
Windhorst thinks the Lakers are doing their proper due diligence, but says Howard coming back to the Purple and Gold is probably not going to happen. “I don’t think it’s a very likely marriage,” Windhorst said on ESPN’s SportsCenter. “I think the Lakers right now are doing their due diligence on players, on available centers. Joakim Noah’s another guy they’ve looked at. “Dwight Howard has been on four different teams in the last four years. The Lakers are in need of somebody who can be healthy and give them minutes and that doesn’t fit who Dwight Howard or Joakim Noah are at this point of their careers.
“But I understand why the Lakers have those names on the list. I think this is unlikely. I believe the Lakers coaches want a younger, more active player at this point in their careers.”
So does the Lakers’ recent affinity for Howard actually make sense? Should they really be after the eight-time All-Star? Are there not better options out there? According to one anonymous NBA executive who spoke to HoopsHype, the low-risk, high-reward nature of such a deal, one that would be worth the veteran minimum if it does happen, would make it a worthwhile gamble for Los Angeles. “Personal baggage aside, I would sign him,” the executive said. “He’s clearly the best player available if he’s healthy. We’ve heard the same song from him for years [as far as changing]. But for the minimum? Why not? If it doesn’t work, they move on.”
A second league exec polled by HoopsHype shared the same sentiment: “I think it’s worth the risk for them. If it doesn’t work out, they can cut bait.”
NBA Insider @ShamsCharania breaks down the Lakers beginning pursuit of Dwight Howard and the factors of motivation and health for the 8-time All-Star.
Ramona Shelburne: As @VeniceMase and I discussed the other day on @ESPNLosAngeles ... Dwight Howard may have left town on bad terms with some in LA. But he always had a good relationship with Jeanie Buss. Remember, Jeanie and Phil tweeting at him during the recruiting process.
Howard took some time to sit down during his time in Las Vegas, where he has regrouped with a new management team around him and is strategizing on his next steps. Several NBA teams have told The Athletic they are intrigued about Howard, who says he has lost 25 pounds since the NBA season ended and is fully cleared to play basketball. One executive who saw Howard in recent days said Howard appears to be in his best shape in years.
Miles would’ve had value next season as a shooter and veteran. But the Grizzlies were left with less than a million in space under the luxury tax line and needed to clear additional space to set up more moves. By swapping Miles with Howard, Memphis trimmed more than $3M off the books. Miles was set to hit free agency next summer and wasn’t necessarily a long-term piece. The Grizzlies aren’t planning to keep Howard, a league source told The Athletic. This was purely a money-saving maneuver.
Candace Buckner: Dwight Howard No. 21
Michael Lee: Dwight Howard doesn't expect to become another victim of the small ball era: "I plan on playing this game for another good eight years."
Michael Scotto: Dwight Howard gave up $4+ million in his buyout agreement with the Brooklyn Nets, league sources told The Athletic. The buyout gives Brooklyn more cap space to utilize if the Nets choose to do so.
Tim Bontemps: Dwight Howard’s buyout with the Nets was for $5 million, per league sources. Makes sense, given he’s getting the tax MLE from Washington. Gives Brooklyn some extra cushion under the salary cap to make a move or two.
Nets Daily: Hornets are already into the media availability on the trade. No email or announcement yet from Nets. Until the Nets and Howard agree on a buyout, Howard can't join the Wizards.
The Nets never planned to keep him, with his reputation for a bad locker room influence well-earned. They were never going to bring him into their culture and risk having a poor influence on 20-year-old building block Jarrett Allen.
The Washington Wizards are looking to fill their super-sized hole at center with a player once known as Superman. Center Dwight Howard, who was traded to the Brooklyn Nets from the Charlotte Hornets prior to the NBA draft, wants a buyout to become an unrestricted free agent. Once the trade becomes official and terms of Howard's buyout are completed, the Wizards plan to be at the front of the line to offer a contract to the three-time Defensive Player of the Year and eight-time all-star, according to several people in the league familiar with the team's plans.
Howard remains in a holding pattern. The trade from Charlotte to Brooklyn will not become official until the end of the league's annual moratorium on transactions at 12:01 a.m. July 6. At that point, the Nets and Howard are expected to enter into negotiations over a possible buyout, and Howard will then have to clear waivers. Once that happens, Washington will be among the favorites to work a deal with the 14-year veteran.
Sam Amick on Dwight Howard: “There are a lot of teams, maybe the majority of teams, that [won’t consider him at all due to his history]. That’s a hard yes. First of all, what’s interesting is that his buyout isn’t done yet. His timing isn’t great. They haven’t completed the buyout. I need to go back and look, but I believe Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the trade with the Brooklyn Nets can’t go down until July 6. But I do know for a fact, independent of that, they haven’t even agreed on a number [for the buyout]. That part still has to get resolved. Then, as far as his prospects, he’s like DeMarcus [Cousins] in the sense that he’d like to play with LeBron [James]. That’s definitely on his radar."
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Ja Morant: 'I'm a Top 5 point guard'

Where do you feel you rank among the top point guards in the game? Ja Morant: Top 5. If you’re Top 5, who else is there with you? Ja Morant: Morant: Steph (Curry). I’m a big Chris Paul fan. I’d say Dame (Lillard) and (Russell) Westbrook. It’s tough. The point guard position is so loaded. Some guys have to get left out.
Your teammate, Jaren Jackson Jr., was the No. 2 breakout player, according to a poll of 15 NBA executives I did for HoopsHype. What do you expect from a healthy Jaren this season? Ja Morant: To me, personally, I think he’s No. 1 if he’s healthy. He’s been battling some injuries that set him back. A healthy Jaren is definitely the number one breakout player this season. He’s just a special talent that’s gifted. He’s 7-foot-1, can shoot the three, can put it on the floor, and can play inside. He does so much on the floor. As long as he stays healthy, which we need him to be, he’s definitely number one.
What do you think of Dillon Brooks as a defender and as a player overall for this team? Ja Morant: Dillon is an important piece to this team offensively and defensively. I’ve been saying a lot now that I feel like he doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his defense, especially against some of the top guys. Some of them probably won’t admit it, but I feel like most of the games when they struggled, Dillon was guarding them. Soon, that’ll come that he gets his respect for that. Offensively, how he’s able to score the ball from all three levels is big-time for us.
Speaking of locker rooms, what are the expectations in the locker room for the Grizzlies this season? Where do you guys think you can compete on what type of level? Ja Morant: I feel like we can compete with the top teams in this league. We all have that mindset, and this chip on our shoulder we go out and play with each and every night. Now, it’s continuing to buy in and keep gelling as a team and getting better with chemistry. Having more guys step up and talk who’ve been in the game for a while to help the young guys come along. Our goal this year is to continue to be better in all areas and better than we were last year.