Dwight Howard ended several weeks of speculation Monday night, saying he will in fact be suiting up for the Los Angeles Lakers when the NBA season restarts in the Orlando bubble later this month.
“I feel like we have a great opportunity, the Lakers do, for winning the title this year,” Howard said in an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon making his announcement.
“I have an obligation. I have a contractual obligation. To my teammates, to my fans, the Lakers, the organization and everyone, but at the same time I also have an obligation to my family and my community. Yes, I will be joining my team in Orlando, but during that time we will be getting a lot of work done,” Howard said.
The Lakers big man had previously said the restart of the NBA season could be a “distraction” to the social justice work being done in the United States in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police.
To help further the fight for social justice, Howard told Lemon he would be donating his salary he will receive for the games in the bubble to his “Breathe Again” initiative.
On the court, Howard committing to the Lakers is a big boost to their title hopes. The No. 1 pick in the 2004 draft is currently averaging 7.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in 19.2 minutes per contest for the No. 1 team in the Western Conference.
The team is set to be without Avery Bradley, who opted out of the season’s restart. To compensate, the Lakers signed veteran guard J.R. Smith, who played with LeBron James on the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2015-18.