Anthony Davis is new to the Los Angeles Lakers, but he already holds decision-making power.
After Shams Charania broke the news that Dwight Howard will sign with the Lakers when he clears waivers after getting a contract buyout from the Memphis Grizzlies, he published a story detailing what led Howard back to L.A., where he spent the 2012-13 season, and Davis' preferences played a part:
"For Davis, the desire to play alongside a true center is real. Davis is comfortable playing minutes at center during the playoffs, a league source told The Athletic but prefers a true big next to him over a full regular season. The Lakers understood this and began targeting Howard. They needed to know whether they could put their faith in him."
After all the Lakers gave up to acquire Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, keeping the 26-year-old All-Star happy is important. However, going the route of Howard to replace DeMarcus Cousins, who tore his ACL earlier this month, is risky.
Howard's first stint with the Lakers was a disaster mostly because the 33-year-old didn't get along with Kobe Bryant—ironically, this news falls on the future Hall of Famer's 41st birthday. With Bryant now retired, what matters most to L.A. is how Howard can mesh with the current roster. Charania wrote that he "won over the players in the locker room, including [LeBron] James and Davis, for his approach and mindset in the visit."
While the 2012-13 Lakers team failed to live up to expectations, Howard performed decently although below his Superman standards. The 2004 top overall pick was named an All-Star and averaged 17.1 points with 12.4 rebounds across 76 games. He did so after having undergone back surgery prior to that season.
"Lakers want him to protect rim/rebound in limited role," Wojnarowski added. "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."
If Howard doesn't work out in L.A. for a second time, the Lakers can turn to JaVale McGee to take the load at center in order to still fulfill Davis' wish.
Before Charania's report on Friday, the 26-year-old had told Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times in mid-July, "I like playing the 4. I'm not even going to sugarcoat it. I like playing the 4. I don't really like playing the 5."
"We want a decade of dominance out of him here, right?" Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka told reporters at Davis' introductory presser. "So we've got to do what's best for his body, and having him bang against the biggest centers in the West every night is not what's best for his body or for our team and the franchise."
McGee appeared in 75 games for the Lakers last season, while Howard last played on Nov. 18, 2018, for the Washington Wizards.