Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is just a movie, but this is for real: Dwight Howard is expected to be back in Los Angeles and sign with the Lakers, six years after his first run in purple and gold.
Howard's agent told The Athletic's Shams Charania the center has completed a buyout with the Grizzlies and will sign with the Lakers once he clears waivers.
This comes after the news that former Warriors and Kings center DeMarcus Cousins tore his ACL nearly two weeks ago. Cousins, who signed a one-year contract with the Lakers this offseason, was expected to be L.A.'s starting center this season, but that now could fall to Howard.
Though ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Howard's contract with the Lakers is non-guaranteed, it's likely he makes the team. L.A. currently has just one natural center on their roster, former Warrior JaVale McGee, and he's better suited as a lob threat off the bench.
That's the problem. McGee and Howard essentially fill the same roles for the Lakers. They both can swat shots and finish dunks. Besides that, they don't offer much.
Howard also has dealt with multiple injuries in the past and only played in nine games last season with the Washington Wizards due to a gluteal injury. In his last healthy season, the 33-year-old averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds for the Charlotte Hornets during the 2017-18 campaign.
Replacing Cousins with McGee is a downgrade for the Lakers, but an upgrade for the Warriors and Kings when it comes to playoff seeding. Golden State is viewed as having a similar regular-season record as L.A. next season while the Kings are looking to end a 13-year playoff drought.
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The last time Howard was a Laker, things went haywire on and off the court in Hollywood. Will the script be flipped this time?
Howard could have quite the redemption story, but it would be a bold bet by an outsider.