Howard to join Lakers with stern caveat

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Despite that history, the Lakers are still willing to bring Howard back after losing DeMarcus Cousins for the season due to a torn ACL.

The 6-foot-11 center and his representatives reached an agreement on a buyout with the Grizzlies and the Lakers plan to sign Howard to a non-guaranteed contract, ESPN reported Friday.

The Lakers will hold the leverage on Howard and can cut him before the NBA's January 7 deadline without cost to the team.

Howard's deal will be non-guaranteed, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN adds, giving the Lakers leverage to ensure that the environment they're building in the team's locker room remains in tact. In his most recent full season, with the Charlotte Hornets in 2017-18, he averaged 12.5 rebounds per game, 3.1 of which were on the offensive glass. That year saw the Lakers underachieve relative to expectations with a 45-37 record, and they were swept in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs, the eventual Western Conference champions.

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It took a while for the billboards to work their magic, but six years later, the Lakers finally have their man. But Howard also hasn't thrived since shortly after he departed: He made the All-NBA second team for the Rockets, but struggled with injuries and eventually left as a free agent in 2016.

Memphis never meant to bring Howard to training camp, so the savings turns out to be a significant financial bonus for the franchise. The Lakers were reportedly holding a roster spot open with an eye toward signing Andre Iguodala should he secure a buyout from the Memphis Grizzlies.

But beyond temperament and unwillingness to adjust to the modern National Basketball Association, the Lakers are now presented with a variety of possible hazards after reuniting with Howard. There is a possibility that head coach Frank Vogel will first try Anthony Davis in the middle and then adjust later on.

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