LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers intend to sign center Dwight Howard after he completes a buyout with Memphis, a person familiar with the decision said.
Howard would make an improbable return to the Lakers, now with LeBron James as their star, six years after his acrimonious departure.
The eight-time All-Star selection ostensibly will be the replacement for center DeMarcus Cousins, the former Warriors player who recently tore a knee ligament after signing with the Lakers as a free agent last month. Cousins could be sidelined for the entire 2019-20 season, and Howard will team with another former Warrior, JaVale McGee, as well as newly acquired Anthony Davis, to play the center spot for the Lakers.
Howard previously spent one season with the Lakers, who acquired him from Orlando in August 2012 and teamed him with Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in the hopes of building a championship team.
Although Howard played through injuries, he also clashed with Bryant, coach Mike D’Antoni and others in the locker room before that season ended with a first-round playoff sweep. Howard averaged 17.1 points and led the NBA with 12.4 rebounds during his sole season in Los Angeles.
Photo: Nick Wass / Associated Press
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Howard then left the Lakers as a free agent in July 2013, turning down a $118 million deal to join Houston for significantly less. He has been vociferously booed by Lakers fans — and Clippers fans, too — in every trip back to Staples Center since then.
Howard’s departure coincided with the start of the worst six-year period in franchise history for the 16-time champion Lakers, who haven’t been to the postseason since he left. But Howard also hasn’t thrived. He did make the All-NBA second team for the Rockets, but struggled with injuries and eventually left as a free agent in 2016.
Howard has been with five franchises since, although he never suited up for Brooklyn or Memphis. Howard signed with Washington last summer, but he needed spinal surgery and played in only nine games for the Wizards, who traded him to the Grizzlies last month.
Greg Beacham is an Associated Press writer.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Lakers-plan-to-sign-Dwight-Howard-14375234.php.