Dwight Howard open to joining Lakers, Clippers

Dwight Howard will be playing for his fifth team in five years in 2019-20, but where that will be is still unknown.

The big man played just nine games in Washington last season because of a back injury that required surgery. Howard was then sent to the Grizzlies, who are likely to waive him if they can’t find a reasonable trade.

If Howard becomes a free agent this summer and gets to choose where he plays next, he’d consider joining the Clippers or Lakers, he told the Los Angeles Times.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I do love L.A.,” Howard said Saturday. “Staples Center is going to be rocking this season. When I played there it was rocking every night. The atmosphere is crazy, not just for the Lakers but the Clippers too. I just think all the hard work they’ve put in is paying off now. They’ve always been viewed as the Lakers’ little brother, but they decided to stand out and be different and you have to thank guys like Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul for laying the foundation for this team, and then what Doc [Rivers] has done has been great. This is just all that hard work paying off.”

Howard, 33, played for the Lakers for one season in 2012-13, hoping to form a super team with aging stars Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant. That team was underwhelming, though, finishing seventh in the Western Conference. It was swept by the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs and Los Angeles hasn’t made the postseason since.

After parting ways with the Lakers, Howard played for the Rockets, Hawks, Hornets and Wizards. And the league has changed a lot since he last lived in Los Angeles.

The Lakers signed LeBron James in free agency last summer and pulled off a blockbuster deal to acquire Anthony Davis from the Pelicans this offseason. They also brought in Danny Green, DeMarcus Cousins and some highly-regarded role players. Although the Lakers didn’t make the playoffs last season, their new personnel makes them one of the favorites to win it all this year.

Then there’s the Clippers, who signed 2019 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and managed to convince the Thunder to trade Paul George — spring boarding them into the championship conversation.

Howard, an eight-time All-Star, three-time Defensive Player of the Year and five-time NBA rebounding leader isn’t the player he used to be. But he might have an opportunity to become a valuable contributor to a contender in a reserve role if given the chance.

Howard still thinks highly of the Lakers, despite his short stint with the team.

“It just wasn’t the right fit for me at the time,” Howard said of his first season in Los Angeles. “But the Lakers have been doing something right for a long time because they have the most fans in the world and the most championships over the past 40 years. You’re not going to win a championship every year, but they’re back and will compete for a championship next season.”