While millions of basketball fans around the world focus on the FIBA World Cup, franchises back in the NBA are working to settle their expected rotation for the 2019 season.
Nearly every roster has offseason additions and players returning from injury to place into the lineup. The most notable, of course, is the Los Angeles Lakers, who revamped their personnel around LeBron James and recently signed a high-profile backup.
And where exactly does Dwight Howard fit?
Over the last half-decade, the once-dominant defender and rim-rattler has become more known for an inability to mesh personally with several locker rooms. Howard has shuffled through the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards since 2016.
Production, however, was rarely an issue despite the problematic relationships. He averaged 14.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game during the last three years, including his injury-shortened 2018-19 season.
This time around in Los Angeles―Howard spent the 2012-13 season with the franchise―he'll be more of a complementary piece.
"He's gonna serve a different role," Vogel said on SportsNet (h/t LakeShowWorld). "It's gonna be more of a role player type of role as opposed to being a lead. He understands that, [and] he's excited about playing that type of role on this team."
For his and the team's sake, hopefully that's true. Howard still can be a valuable contributor on a playoff contender.
But you wouldn't be faulted for thinking, "Well, OK then. I'll believe it when I see it." Recent history is not on Howard's side.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Lakers sent a clear message during negotiations with Howard. They told the veteran if he disrupts the locker room, he'll be gone. This is effectively his final chance to help an NBA roster.
On the other hand, the Oklahoma City Thunder's Andre Roberson is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to produce again. The 27-year-old hasn't appeared in a game since January 2018 because of a knee injury and multiple setbacks during his recovery last year.
Roberson is finally ready for a return.
"He feels really good," his father John told Erik Horne of the Oklahoman. "When you get injured, it takes a toll on you mentally because you're constantly doubting yourself and that things are going to hold up mentally. I think that's the biggest hurdle he's had to get over."
Assuming full health―which we'll do for the sake of argument―Roberson should be an important player for the new-look Thunder. They'll lean on Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in the backcourt, but Roberson's defensive ability and versatility will remove a little bit of pressure from the guards.
It could turn him into a trade piece, too.
According to HoopsHype, Roberson is entering the final year of his contract. While he likely won't be coveted as a three-and-D option―he's a career 25.7 percent long-range shooter―teams may still monitor him for that potentially elite defense.
If the Thunder can extract any value from his expiring deal, that's a win for the rebuilding franchise. And if a healthy Roberson has a chance to compete for a title in 2019-20, his extended rehab should be worth the time and effort.
Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.