Howard has been pleasant surprise in L.A.
You didn’t see it on the transaction wire. But it was one of the shrewdest moves the Lakers have made in this season of resurgence.
Dwight Howard’s contract was guaranteed for the rest of the season Tuesday.
It’s the best $2.6 million the Lakers have spent in a long time.
The outlook was so pejorative when Howard returned to the Lakers last summer, Tuesday’s date was expected to be a dismissal.
The last four years, Howard played for four different teams.
Even worse, he developed a reputation as a clubhouse lawyer.
Or so the scouting report said.
That Dwight Howard must have gone backdoor, because he has not been seen this season.
Instead, Howard has shot a career-high 73 percent from the floor.
If he played the minutes other top 10 rebounders did, he would rank seventh overall in the NBA.
Someone calculated that opposing shooting percentages drop 20 points when he’s on the floor.
When Howard and the Lakers’ second unit come on the floor, more times than not they maintain, and often increase, the lead LeBron James and Anthony Davis have entrusted to them.
On the bench, Howard is such an animated cheerleader, he often upstages the
“He’s been a great teammate,” said Lakers coach Frank Vogel, the only bigger Lakers surprise this season than Howard.
In his first go-round with the Lakers, Howard was so anxious to please Kobe Bryant, he came back before he was completely healed from offseason back surgery.
A shortness of health was interpreted to be a shortness of character. Kobe rode D-12, HARD. It was meant to toughen him mentally, to make the breakthrough to superstardom of all those retired big men’s numbers high in the Staples Center rafters.
Instead, Howard felt picked on.
It was a cross between Zen and a Vulcan mind scan.
Howard fled town, leaving behind the baggage of a malingerer’s reputation.
Now he’s back, and so is his dream to add another gold banner up there with those big men greats.
His timing is perfect this time.