The first Dwight Howard era with the Los Angeles Lakers certainly did not come to a positive end as much of the angst towards him still lingers in fans today.
That’s why there were certainly mixed reviews when it was announced that Howard would be returning to the Lakers on a one-year, non-guaranteed deal for the 2019-2020 NBA season.
Fans will have to get used to the idea of seeing Howard back in a Lakers uniform, something that they’ll struggle to do if he isn’t an immediately impactful player. If Howard stumbles out of the gate to start the new season, he may never gain favor back in the city of Los Angeles.
Even for Howard, coming back to Los Angeles felt strange at first. But for him, Los Angeles is home and that weirdness quickly dissipated to excitement.
“It’s kind of weird getting back out there, but I’m very thankful to be playing with the Lakers again,” Howard said on his return to Staples Center.
“I’ve always loved this place despite how it ended the last time. I never lost any love for any of the fans or the people here… I love playing in this building,” Howard said. “It brings a lot of joy playing here. So it was weird at first, but I’m just happy to be back home.”
Howard referring to the Lakers and Los Angeles as if it’s a home for him should excite fans for what’s to come this season. Howard’s issues the last few seasons stemmed from the fact that he never had the passion or the motivation to play a role that others wanted him to play.
Howard being happy to be back in a place that he feels is home may give him the motivation to want to do everything in his power to stay. The non-guaranteed deal keeps him in check as he can be cut at any time, but the idea of being home and not wanting to lose that is likely a huge push for him.
Howard has looked good so far this preseason, but it will be up to him to keep his good play up as well as be a good supporter for JaVale McGee and the rest of his teammates when he’s not on the court.
If Howard can do that, then taking the risk on him will absolutely have been worth it.