Since spurning the Los Angeles Lakers for the Houston Rockets in 2013 NBA free agency, Dwight Howard has been on a journey that has very much resembled a downward spiral.
Howard has been a member of the Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards, and Memphis Grizzlies in just six seasons. And with the exception of a relatively decent stint with the Hornets, Howard hasn’t really been good in any of those places.
However, all of that led him back to the Lakers. Los Angeles signed Howard to a non-guaranteed deal after DeMarcus Cousins‘ ACL tear. Obviously, this move was met with some backlash as Howard hasn’t exactly been helpful to anyone — least of all the Lakers — in a very long time.
Several current Lakers players must have also felt this way as Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee, and Rajon Rondo reportedly met with Howard to see if he was even trustworthy before the Lakers agreed to sign him to a deal, according to Shams Charania of The Atheltic:
Word traveled around the roster, and Davis, Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee spent time with Howard inside the team’s facility Thursday. They wanted to know whether they could trust Howard, whether Howard’s mindset would fit this team.
Howard reportedly convinced the players and team officials by discussing his fall to ‘rock bottom’ last season with the Wizards, and admitted that he hadn’t been taking the game seriously for the majority of his career:
League sources said Howard had a convincing and emotional meeting with the players and Lakers officials, explaining how he had reached rock bottom a season ago and needed to find a new mindset in his life. On and off the floor. He was not the teammate he needed to be in playing for three teams in the past three years. He did not take the game seriously enough, he did not understand what was needed to turn the corner.
There are a couple takeaways from this. First is for the first time in a while, it seems that Howard knows why he hasn’t been successful anywhere. Howard often used to blame the organizations for his failures as he did with the Rockets, Lakers, and Orlando Magic. But now, it appears that he’s correctly blaming himself.
The second thing is that it seems like the Lakers have gone about this in all the right ways, legitimately doing due diligence rather than just immediately reacting following the Cousins injury. Both of these things should offer a semblance of hope that this transaction may pay off in the long run.