NBA Rumors: Latest on Dwight Howard, Lakers' Options to Replace DeMarcus Cousins

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 19, 2019

Washington Wizards center Dwight Howard (21) waits as a free throw shot is made during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Al Drago)
Al Drago/Associated Press

In the wake of adding Anthony Davis and missing out on Kawhi Leonard, the addition of DeMarcus Cousins was largely viewed as an afterthought in the Los Angeles Lakers' offseason.

However, the torn ACL recently suffered by Cousins is now viewed as a major problem.

"He could have gone 18 points, nine rebounds a game for the Lakers, something like that, and that would have been perfect for them," Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet said on The Dan Patrick Show. "They needed a big man who could shoot outside a little bit. And now that just means more time for JaVale McGee, who is more of a traditional [center]. ...They lose some spacing on the floor, which really hurts them."

In addition to losing a player who could help create space for Davis and LeBron James, the Lakers now find themselves short-handed at center altogether.

McGee is the only true center currently on the roster. While Davis has played the position before, Los Angeles does not plan to use him there extensively, according to Jared Greenberg of NBA TV and SiriusXM:

Jared Greenberg @JaredSGreenberg

In the wake of the DeMarcus Cousins news a high ranking member of the Lakers tells me that they do not expect nor do they want Anthony Davis to play “big minutes” at center this season @NBATV

This means the Lakers, who do have an open roster spot, will have to look outside the organization to replace Cousins.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium recently mentioned two options: free agent Joakim Noah and Dwight Howard of the Memphis Grizzlies.

According to Charania, there is "mutual interest" between Los Angeles and Howard.

While Howard—who was traded to Memphis in July—is under contract, the Grizzlies are not widely expected to carry him into the regular season. His $5.6 million salary makes him less than desirable in a straight-up trade, but the Lakers have been granted permission to speak with him, per Charania:

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

The Grizzlies are granting the Los Angeles Lakers permission to speak with Dwight Howard, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.

The question is just how serious the Lakers are about acquiring Howard. At this point in his career, the 33-year-old would likely be a high-end backup at best, and it's not like his last stint in Los Angeles went exceptionally well.

According to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, the Lakers are still in the early stages of weighing Howard as an option:

Ramona Shelburne @ramonashelburne

Regarding the Lakers and Dwight Howard, a team source says their interest is more “due diligence “ after the Boogie injury. Memphis has granted permission for Dwight and his camp to speak to teams, one of which is the Lakers.

That Los Angeles isn't jumping to acquire Howard says more about his fit as a replacement for Cousins than about his previous failed experiment with the Lakers, though.

Per Shelburne, his relationship with controlling owner Jeanie Buss never soured:

Ramona Shelburne @ramonashelburne

As @VeniceMase and I discussed the other day on @ESPNLosAngeles ... Dwight 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.

As for Noah? It's more about connecting the dots than about anything substantial, as Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago recently pointed out.

"There's no indication that the Lakers have interest in Noah—though they'll certainly need to address the position—or that Noah has any interest in the Lakers—though it's August 15 and he's still unsigned," he wrote. "But the pairing makes sense."

Like Howard, Noah would likely back up McGee for the Lakers, though the 7.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists he averaged in just over 16 minutes suggest he'd be a valuable bench player.

Many fans will note, of course, that Noah and James have not always had the friendliest relationship. If teaming up gives them a realistic shot at a championship, however, it seems likely the two would find a way to coexist.