Lakers expected to meet with free agent Dwight Howard

According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, the Lakers are expected to meet with free agent center Dwight Howard following DeMarcus Cousins' ACL tear. LA's big man depth took a major hit with Cousins out for (likely) the entire season; JaVale McGee is the sole center left on the roster. Anthony Davis has experience playing the 5 but he's made it well-known that he prefers power forward, and with one year to woo AD into signing an extension, the Lakers must do whatever to accommodate him.

Over his first eight seasons in the league, Dwight Howard was a dominant fan-favorite for the Orlando Magic. He won three Defensive Player of the Year awards, was named to five All-NBA First teams and All-Star games, and made an NBA Finals appearance in 2009 while playing for the Magic. After a highly publicized exit from the Magic in 2012, Howard was traded to the Lakers in a three-team trade that completely altered the landscape of the NBA. His time with the Lakers was brief, as he fought through injuries throughout a disappointing season that ended in the first round of the playoffs. Howard's season with the Lakers resulted in one of the bigger "what ifs?" in league history due to the failure of preseason expectations. LA brought in Steve Nash alongside Dwight to team up with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Metta World Peace to keep the dynasty going.

Howard would sign with the Houston Rockets in the 2013 offseason in a move that would start the journeyman era of Howard's career. Over the last six seasons, Howard has gained the reputation of a "diva" and poor locker room influence; he's signed or been traded to eight teams since leaving the Magic, with a ninth on the horizon. Despite the fact that he's put up consistent, even All-Star worthy numbers, Howard's inability to alter his game to modern times or provide valuable veteran leadership has led to him being a consistent trade chip.

A month ago, Howard expressed interest in returning to LA to play for the Lakers or the Clippers. With the Lakers desperate to put the right team around LeBron James and AD, a reunion with Howard would make a lot of sense, regardless of the past. Howard claims he has changed his mindset and wants to be a team's Draymond Green. Last season was the only season in Howard's fifteen-year career in which he didn't average a double-double, but he was limited to nine games. His last full season was with Charlotte during the 2017-18 season, and he averaged 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game on 53.5% shooting; All-Star numbers on a playoff team.

This has already been the craziest offseason in my life and probably all of league history. The amount of player movement has been absolutely unfathomable, but a Dwight Howard-Lakers reunion would be the most-NBA icing on the cake ever.

There are limited options on the free agent market, so look for the Lakers to either sign Howard or Joakim Noah.