Dwight Howard not rejoining the Los Angeles Lakers would create a big hurdle to overcome.
The Los Angeles Lakers are gearing up for a return to action at Disney World in Orlando, Florida and it appeared as if the team was only going to be without one of their players, Avery Bradley.
Bradley informed the team last week that he would not be rejoining them in Orlando, citing the health and safety of his family. There was a deadline for players to inform their teams whether or not they were playing last week and Bradley was the only player that definitively opted out.
The deadline passing has not stopped players from opting out, though. Brooklyn Nets’ center DeAndre Jordan opted out of the season’s resumption on Monday (after the deadline) after it was learned that he tested positive for COVID-19.
The point? These players can opt-out of the league’s resumption even though the deadline has passed and there could be an example of this happening on the Los Angeles Lakers in Dwight Howard.
Los Angeles Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka did address the potential doubts in Howard returning to the Lakers in a conference call with reporters.
“Dwight is another player of ours who has an extenuating circumstance in addition to some of the social justice messaging he’s been doing, which we’re supportive of. One of his sons, a 6-year-old son, did lose tragically his mother several weeks ago. We have been working very closely, and I’ve been in contact with Dwight often and his agent.”
Pelinka also commented that the deadline for players to inform their teams if they are opting out did pass, but as we have seen with several other players, that does not seem to matter.
According to Pelinka, this continues to be an evolving situation and if we read between the lines of what he is saying, it is clear that the team is not one-hundred percent certain that Howard will be participating in Orlando.
“We’re going to continue to work through those extenuating circumstances with Dwight, support him, support his 6-year-old son and hope for the best that he’d be a part of our roster in Orlando. But that will be a continued process.”
More power to Dwight Howard. If he does not want to play in Orlando he should not have to. Family comes first, second and third in this situation.
However, if he does not rejoin the team, it is going to be a big loss for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Why no Dwight Howard is a bigger deal to the Los Angeles Lakers than no Avery Bradley:
Avery Bradley has been really good for the Los Angeles Lakers this season and it does hurt the team to not have him. However, the Lakers have the necessary depth to replace him.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been really good this season and most of the Lakers’ best lineups actually come with KCP on the court and Bradley off. The team also has existing depth guard in Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso and Dion Waiters that can fill that void. Throw in new signing J.R. Smith to play a minimal role and Bradley’s contributions can be allocated elsewhere.
The same cannot be said for Dwight Howard. Howard is one of just two centers on the team and if he does not play there is one of two routes the Lakers can take.
1. Anthony Davis plays more of the five and Devontae Cacok gets a minimal role
This situation would include JaVale McGee getting more minutes, Anthony Davis getting more minutes at the five and Devontae Cacok getting a minimal role, mostly in the seeding games.
This route is fine but McGee is best in smaller spurts and Davis is more than capable of playing the five but it could hurt the team defensively. Cacok was great in the G Leauge but has no NBA experience.
2. Sign a replacement player
The first name that immediately jumps to mind is DeMarcus Cousins, which is not a possibility. NBA insider Shams Charania reported that multiple teams were interested in Cousins but were informed that he would not be participating in the Orlando bubble. Of course, things could change, but with the current status of the league and world, I highly doubt it.
The rest of the potential options at the center position are all mediocre and would not offer much more than Cacok could to the team.
Simply put, Dwight Howard absolutely has the right to sit out and his decision either way should not be questioned. But if he does sit out, there will be plenty of questions in how the Los Angeles Lakers handle the situation