It was a quick, bizarre turn of events that left everybody wondering what had just happened. Why did Howard tweet that he was returning to Los Angeles if he really wasn't?
As it turns out, there may have been a misunderstanding between Howard and the Lakers. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports later reported that members of the Lakers organization were "adamant that a formal offer was never made" to Howard, noting it was only a "deal concept," which Howard thought was a "done deal."
"Lakers management informed Howard’s agent that they had to consult with team ownership and seek approval before making an official offer, sources said," Haynes wrote. "Howard waited for nearly an hour without hearing back, sources said. Communication was strictly between the Lakers front office and Howard’s agent, sources said."
And before much longer, the 34-year-old Howard had agreed to a deal with the 76ers and ended his second stint with the Lakers after one season, the same length as his first time playing in Los Angeles (which came in 2012-13).
Howard played for four other teams before returning to the Lakers on a one-year deal in August 2019. He was a solid contributor for them this past season, averaging 7.5 points and 7.3 rebounds in 69 regular-season games. Then, he averaged 5.8 points and 4.6 rebounds in 18 playoff games, going on to win his first career NBA title.
The 76ers will be Howard's seventh team in his NBA career, which has spanned 16 seasons.
Although Howard won't be returning to Los Angeles, the Lakers have been busy adding other players for their 2020-21 roster. Since the free-agency negotiation period began Friday, they've agreed to deals with forward Montrezl Harrell and guard Wesley Matthews (per Charania). Those signings came after Los Angeles acquired guard Dennis Schroder in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday.
On Saturday, Charania also reported the Lakers agreed to a deal bringing back guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who has played for Los Angeles the past three seasons.
But Los Angeles doesn't appear to be done. Marc Stein of the New York Times reported Saturday night that the Lakers "seek one more big man," although it may not be Marc Gasol (who they had reportedly shown interest in) due to their financial situation after signing Harrell and Caldwell-Pope.
Perhaps that opening could go to Markieff Morris, who is interested in re-signing with Los Angeles, according to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. Turner also noted that the Lakers could use their veteran's minimum exception to sign a player.