A few years ago, center Dwight Howard returned to the Los Angeles Lakers after a failed first stint, and he played a key role off the bench, helping the team win an NBA championship in 2020.
He came back for a third stint last season, and although he had some interest in staying on the roster for this season, the Lakers decided not to re-sign him.
According to Howard, L.A. didn’t bring him back due to his age. He said so while on “Club Shay Shay,” the podcast hosted by Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe.
“I would’ve went willing to go back to the Lakers,” said Howard. “I’ve been willing to go back. They told me every time we not gonna give nobody over 30 a multiple-year contract. So I’m like, ‘Dang, I just helped y’all win the NBA championship. Y’all could get your boy a mill or two or give me a mill. I don’t want a whole bunch of minutes. Give me 20 minutes and let me ball out.'”
Howard initially was traded to the Lakers in 2012. With him, Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, they were expected to seriously contend for the world title.
But the team experienced a gnarly rash of injuries, and it got swept in the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs.
Howard left the team in the ensuing offseason in free agency amidst rumors of a rift between him and Bryant, and he bounced around the NBA afterwards while apparently having problems getting along with other teammates.
But, during his second voyage with the Purple and Gold in the 2019-20 season, he was a positive influence on his teammates while accepting and embracing a reduced role.
Last season, Howard was played inconsistently, but when he did play, he was still effective, even if he wasn’t the player he was just two years prior.
The Lakers have made a concerted effort to get much younger this season. Last year, they had one of the oldest rosters anyone could remember seeing in recent NBA memory.