When the Lakers signed Dwight Howard during the offseason, the collective chuckle going around the league, and certainly Twitter, was palpable. Howard, once one of the best players in the league, had become a punchline who’d burned through four teams since his initial, disastrous tour with the Lakers. The signing was seen as a last-ditch deal by a team that had waited too long for Kawhi Leonard and was stuck rounding up the leftover scraps of a barren marketplace.
But the Lakers were careful. They signed Howard to a non-guaranteed deal for $2.56 million, the veteran’s minimum for a player with at least 10 years of service. In other words, the Lakers have effectively been paying Howard day to day, with a Jan. 7 deadline to guarantee his full deal for the remainder of the season. If the Lakers, at any point prior to Jan. 7, had wanted to cut ties with Howard, they could’ve done so without paying him another dollar.
It was a trial period, a test of sorts, and Howard has passed with flying colors. Now Jan. 7 has arrived, and the Lakers, in a mere formality of a move, are officially picking up Howard’s contract for the rest of the season, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
So the dream season continues for Howard, who has carved out an integral role on a Lakers team with the second-best record in the league. On Monday it was reported that Howard. One night earlier, he recorded five of the Lakers’ 20 blocked shots — to go with 11 points and nine boards — in a win over Detroit.
For the season, Howard is averaging 7.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in just under 20 minutes a game. Those numbers don’t do complete justice to the impact he’s had. Howard has made a lot more money in his career than the Lakers are paying him, but it’s been a while since he earned his paycheck like this.
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