Lakers' Dwight Howard Undecided on NBA Restart Due to 'Extenuating Circumstance'

Blake SchusterAnalyst IJune 30, 2020

FILE - In this Feb. 12, 2020, file photo, Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard looks on in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets in Denver. The mother of Howard's 6-year-old son died nearly six weeks ago due to an epileptic seizure, the Lakers center says. Howard has spent his hiatus from basketball dealing with the difficult task of explaining Melissa Rios' death to their son, but also grateful for the chance to heal from the loss outside the daily grind of the NBA schedule. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Dwight Howard may be the latest Los Angeles Laker to opt out of the NBA's restart in Orlando, Florida, in late July. 

According to ESPN's Dave McMenamin, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said Howard is working through an "extenuating circumstance" following the recent death of the mother of one of his children. 

Los Angeles guard Avery Bradley withdrew from the restart last Tuesday over concerns for his family's health amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Bradley's six-year-old son, Liam, has struggled to recover from respiratory illnesses in the past and is unlikely to be cleared to join his family inside the NBA's bubble at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. 

The Lakers are working toward signing free agent JR Smith to fill Bradley's open roster spot at shooting guard. It's unclear if Los Angeles would target a replacement for Howard should he opt out. 

McMenamin noted the team is "hopeful" Howard will join the Lakers but does not have official word yet. Los Angeles remains in contact with the center as he continues to evaluate his options. Melissa Rios, with whom Howard has a six-year-old son, David, died after having an epileptic seizure March 27. 

On an 80-plus-player conference call led by Kyrie Irving on June 12, Howard urged everyone to reconsider the resumption of the 2019-20 campaign, arguing that it was a key moment for social justice reform and that basketball may distract from the issues of systemic racism and police brutality in the United States, per The Athletic's Shams Charania

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Heading into the league's hiatus March 11 due to COVID-19, Howard was averaging 7.5 points on 73.2 percent shooting from the field and 7.4 rebounds in 19.2 minutes per game. 

Los Angeles (49-14) has remained one of the favorites to win the NBA title this season with the duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the way. 

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