Sixers news: Dwight Howard returns to Lakers

Dwight Howard, Sixers Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Dwight Howard, Sixers Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /

In a move that has been hinted at over the past several days, Dwight Howard will return to the Los Angeles Lakers next season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. This leaves the Sixers without proven depth in the frontcourt behind Joel Embiid, a problem Daryl Morey will surely look to address in the coming days.

Howard’s departure does not really wound the Sixers, though. He had a respectable season off the bench in 2020-21, but was vastly overrated by many in the fanbase. Aside from crashing the boards, where he excelled, Howard’s production was scarce and inconsistent. He clogged the paint offensively, and was too chaotic to be labeled a truly “good” defender in his age-35 season.

Those problems came to a head in the playoffs, where Howard was borderline unplayable despite Doc Rivers’ stubborn insistence on playing him. Howard was an absolute negative-value player in the postseason, making his departure pretty easy to swallow.

The Sixers are in search of a new backup center following Dwight Howard’s return to LA.

Despite his shortcomings last season, Howard did provide value as a leader. He earned constant praise for his work in the locker room, with Joel Embiid calling him a favorite teammate. Howard was in the gym with young guys, getting up 3s with Ben Simmons post-game (lol), and doing his duty as a championship-winning vet on a young contender.

The Sixers will no doubt miss Howard’s presence, if not his play. With Danny Green also eligible to leave, Philadelphia could find itself with a leadership void in the locker room. That said, if Doc Rivers did one thing well last season, it was bring the team together and establish a new vibe in the locker room. Howard’s departure alone shouldn’t be enough to shatter that.

With plenty of time left in free agency, do not be surprised if the Sixers sign another useful 30-something center to a veteran minimum contract. That said, do not forget Paul Reed, who won G-League MVP last season and earned a full-time contract.

5 free agent options at center. dark. Next