Dwight Howard’s status for the resumption of the NBA season remains uncertain, but the Los Angeles Lakers do not plan to replace him on the roster.
Coach Frank Vogel confirmed the team’s position on Wednesday while speaking on a conference call with media members.
“We’ve been in communication with Dwight the whole way,” Vogel said. “We don’t know what the level of participation is yet. He wants to play.
“We’re hopeful he’s able to join us. We’re hopeful and optimistic that he’ll be able to join us in Orlando.
“We don’t have any intention of replacing Dwight’s roster spot when we believe he’ll hopefully be able to join us.”
The Lakers and 21 other NBA teams will head to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando next week ahead of the restart of play on July 30.
According to ESPN, Howard is currently at home in Georgia, adhering to the NBA’s isolation and testing regulations. Other members of the Lakers are gathering in Los Angeles this week ahead of their relocation to central Florida next week.
Howard is reportedly dealing with several circumstances while weighing his options.
ESPN reported that Howard currently has custody of his six-year-old son, David, after David’s mother died of an epileptic seizure in March.
“He has an extenuating circumstance that he’s working with the league on in terms of what that is ultimately going to look like,” Vogel said.
In addition, Howard has been vocal, along with Lakers teammate Avery Bradley and Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, about NBA players’ social responsibilities in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.
Howard issued a statement to CNN last month that read: “Basketball, or entertainment period, isn’t needed at this moment, and will only be a distraction.
“Sure, it might not distract us the players, but we have resources at hand a majority of our community don’t have. And the smallest distraction for them can start a trickle-down effect that may never stop.
“Especially with the way the climate is now. I would love nothing more than to win my very first NBA Championship. But the unity of My People would be an even bigger Championship, that’s just too beautiful to pass up. What better time than now for us to be focusing on our families?”
The Lakers did make a roster move on Wednesday, deactivating Bradley and signing free agent JR Smith. Bradley stated that he won’t play the rest of the season in order to remain with his family.
Howard, 34, is averaging 7.5 points and 7.4 rebounds in 19.2 minutes per game for the Lakers this season. He had made two starts in 62 appearances.
The eight-time All-Star is on his fifth NBA team in the past five seasons.