LeBron James, Projected Lakers Lineup After Rumored Dwight Howard Contract

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 23, 2019

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James, right, smiles as he walks past New Orleans Pelicans' Anthony Davis during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 21, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers have found their replacement for DeMarcus Cousins by reportedly bringing back Dwight Howard.

Per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, Howard is finalizing a buyout with the Memphis Grizzlies and intends to sign with Los Angeles. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the deal will be non-guaranteed.

The Lakers were in the market for a center when Cousins tore his ACL during an Aug. 15 workout in Las Vegas.

If Howard ends up signing with the team, it's likely won't have a significant impact on the lineup head coach Frank Vogel is going to use when the 2019-20 season begins.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Updated look at the Lakers roster: Rajon Rondo Danny Green LeBron James Anthony Davis Dwight Howard Kyle Kuzma KCP JaVale McGee Avery Bradley Quinn Cook Jared Dudley Alex Caruso Talen Horton-Tucker https://t.co/Xc6HZfhokU

Projected Lakers Lineup

Starters: LeBron James, Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee, Danny Green, Rajon Rondo

Bench: Howard, Kyle Kuzma, Quinn Cook, Avery Bradley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Jared Dudley, Troy Daniels, Alex Caruso, Talen Horton-Tucker

Source: B/R

The one significant question Vogel will have to figure out during training camp is what to do at center. Davis made it clear to reporters during his introductory press conference with the Lakers he prefers playing power forward but would be open to helping the team:

"I like playing the four, I'm not even going to sugarcoat it," he said. "I like playing the four, I don't really like playing the five. But if it comes down to it, Coach, and you need me to play the five, I'll play the five."

McGee was asked to do a lot last season. The 31-year-old started a career-high 62 games and averaged 22.3 minutes per contest, his most since 2011-12 and third-most in 11 NBA seasons. 

Howard's potential arrival could help ease the burden on McGee, especially with Wojnarowski noting the eight-time All-Star has worked to get back in shape:

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

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.

Vogel will have to carefully manage Howard's minutes, as well as McGee. Howard did average 25.6 minutes per game last season with the Washington Wizards, but he was limited to just nine games due to spinal surgery, back and hamstring injuries. 

Howard was an effective player in 2017-18 with the Charlotte Hornets, averaging 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds in 81 games.

If the Lakers get that version of Howard, he can play his way into the starting lineup as an option in the paint with Davis.