Dwight Howard is still undecided on what his playing status will be when the 2019-20 NBA season restarts in Orlando, FL with the July 1 deadline looming now.
According to Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, Howard is mulling over his options after dealing with his son’s mother’s death and racial injustice.
“There was an opt-out date that Dwight did not give notice that he was opting out.
“So we are going to continue to work through these extenuating circumstances with Dwight, support him, support his six-year-old son and hope for the best that he would be a part of our roster in Orlando. But it will be a continued process.”
If Howard’s decision ultimately comes after July 1, the Lakers will be significantly handicapped in who they are allowed to sign as his replacement at this point.
The NBA originally set a June 24 deadline for all players to notify their teams if they will be sitting out, but Howard needed more time to decide and rightfully so.
If Howard chooses to opt-out now, the free agent options will be limited to players with 0-3 years of experience in the NBA, therefore ruling out DeMarcus Cousins.
Cousins was the most popular choice to replace Howard if he had informed the Lakers he would not be traveling with them to Disney World by June 24.
There are no free agents the Lakers would be able to sign that could possibly fill the hole that Howard would leave, both on defense and in terms of team chemistry.
Throughout the season, Howard showed he was one of the most team-centric players while bringing a defensive prowess that led to their top-five defense.
In Howard’s comeback season, he was averaging 7.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in 19.2 minutes while toting the team’s third-highest win shares (5.0).
If Howard ultimately opts out from traveling to Orlando, it will be a huge blow to a team and defense that is still reeling from the loss of Avery Bradley’s decision.