When Dwight Howard signed with the Lakers in August, he pledged to come to camp with an adjusted mindset. After pushing for increased touches and a prominent role during his previous stops, Howard said he had been humbled by his recent struggles and would come to Los Angeles ready and willing to play whatever role was asked of him.
While it’s still early, it sounds like Howard has delivered on that promise so far. As Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com writes, head coach Frank Vogel praised the three-time Defensive Player of the Year this week as the Lakers went through their first few days of training camp.
“Dwight Howard has been all business since he came in this time around,” Vogel said. “We’re asking our whole group to have a seriousness about ourselves. He’s been an all-business type of guy. It’s really helped us to be focused and working on the task at hand.”
Howard is on a non-guaranteed contract, but the Lakers only have 14 players with guaranteed salaries, so the big man is the top candidate to slide into the club’s 15th and final roster spot to start the season. Based on his performance so far in camp, there’s no reason to think that he won’t claim and hang onto that final roster spot.
“Dwight has it on his mind that he wants to help this team win,” teammate Anthony Davis said. “And whatever that entails, he’s going to do it.”
Here’s more on the Lakers:
- Howard isn’t the only veteran Lakers center who has made a good impression so far in camp. According to McMenamin, Vogel also lauded the work of JaVale McGee, who re-signed with the club in July. “JaVale’s performing at a really high level,” the head coach said.
- It’s not yet clear who will start at point guard for the Lakers, as Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley offer different skill sets and both saw time with the first team early in camp, per Mike Trudell of Lakers.com. As Trudell notes, Bradley’s ability to play off the ball could make him a good fit next to LeBron James, though the team could turn to Rondo if it wants more play-making on the court.
- Of course, Rondo and Bradley won’t be the only players competing for minutes at the point guard spot. Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register takes a closer look at Alex Caruso, who will be pushing for a regular rotation role after re-signing with the Lakers in the offseason.
- Kyle Kuzma is still a year away from being able to sign a rookie scale extension, but he has inked another long-term deal that will secure him a nice payday. According to Nick DePaula of ESPN.com, Kuzma signed a five-year footwear and apparel endorsement contract with Puma which is expected to be worth north of $20MM.