The Associated PressLOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Lakers intend to sign center Dwight Howard after he completes a buyout with Memphis, a person familiar with the decision said.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Friday because the deal hasn’t been completed for Howard to make an improbable return to the Lakers six years after his acrimonious departure.
The eight-time All-Star selection will be the ostensible replacement for center DeMarcus Cousins, who recently tore a knee ligament after signing with the Lakers as a free agent last month. Cousins could be sidelined for the entire upcoming season, and Howard will team with JaVale McGee and Anthony Davis to play the center spot for the Lakers.
Howard spent one infamous 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-contending superteam.
Although Howard valiantly played through injuries, he also clashed with Bryant, coach Mike D’Antoni and others in the locker room before that misbegotten 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 L.A.
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 subsequent trip back to Staples Center.
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 back to the postseason since he left. But Howard also hasn’t thrived since shortly after he departed: He made the All-NBA second team for the Rockets, but struggled with injuries and eventually left as a free agent in 2016.