After being somewhat of an afterthought signing last offseason, he played a key role with the Lakers.
Now that he is set to be a free agent, the Lakers have made it known they want him back.
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) November 17, 2020
Even with JaVale McGee opting-in to the final year of his contract, LA still wants Dwight in purple and gold.
However, it will be tough to do with Howard publicly stating he wants a raise.
Between Howard wanting a larger contract and the Lakers strapped for cap space, it will be tough to get a deal done.
Factoring in the supermax deal the Lakers will be giving Anthony Davis, they are left with the Mid-Level Exception – about $9.3 million.
ESPN analyst Bobby Marks seemed to confirm this on ESPN 710 in LA.
“When it comes to Dwight … you can pay him up to $3 million or you can take some out of your exception. I don’t know if I’d want to go in that direction there as far as paying him $5 million, $6 million. This is a deep free agent pool of centers so if it’s not Dwight, I think you can go out and get one.”
Marks predicts Howard will command between $4 – $6 million on the open market.
That salary would be a large chunk of the Lakers’ midlevel exception.
Howard Could Accept Bi-Annual Exception from LA
The Lakers could also offer Dwight the Bi-Annual Exception, which is worth $3.6 million.
This will be below Howard’s asking price but would make the most sense from the Lakers’ point-of-view.
They will not want to spend more on McGee’s backup than McGee himself (McGee opt-in worth $4.2 million).
And with most of their guards and wings hitting free agency, they will want to use their limited cap space to restock those positions.
It is also important to point out Anthony Davis spent a good portion of his time at the center position.
Howard and McGee combined for about 35 MPG last season because Davis handled the center position for 40% of his minutes.
Most of Davis’ time at center came during clutch time too, as LA preferred to deploy a lineup with maximum switchability.
With a deep crop of centers available this offseason, LA could find Dwight’s replacement for much cheaper.
However, the bi-annual exception may be the best Dwight can get.
Per recent reports, there has been limited interest in Howard.
Report: There’s barely any interest in Dwight Howard on free-agency market https://t.co/JDFc28OmTe
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) November 20, 2020
Signing the bi-annual exception in Los Angeles wouldn’t be the worst situation for Dwight.
He would make more than the $2.4 million he made last year while remaining in contention for another title.
Deep Center Class of FA
Howard had a career-revitalizing season last year.
He averaged 18.9 MPG, 7.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and 1.1 BPG.
Most importantly, though, is if he accepted his role as a backup.
The biggest knock against Dwight in recent years is that he wanted to be a featured part of the offense.
With the game shifting more and more to the perimeter, Dwight’s back-to-the-basket style of play simply was no longer efficient.
But the fact of the matter is that there are plenty of free-agent centers this offseason who can replace Dwight.
Nerlens Noel is an attractive name to watch, but the list goes on from there.
LA has made it known they want “Superman” to return, but they probably won’t be able to meet his salary demands.
If Howard returns, it will be for a shot at another ring.