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Report: Dwight Howard spurns Lakers, agrees to deal with Sixers

Veteran center helped L.A. win championship in 2019-20 but has opted to join Doc Rivers in Philadelphia.

Dwight Howard of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts during the third quarter against the Miami Heat in Game Five of the 2020 NBA Finals at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on October 9, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Free agent center Dwight Howard has opted not to re-sign with the defending champs and will join the Philadelphia 76ers on a one-year deal, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Howard had been on the verge of returning to the Los Angeles Lakers, but then it was reported that he will explore more options. Around an hour later, Howard struck a deal with the Sixers, per reports.

Howard brings a legit backup center to place behind Joel Embiid, something the Sixers have lacked in the past. The eight-time All-Star spent three seasons with the Houston Rockets, which is likely where he developed a relationship with Sixers president Daryl Morey. That coupled with the addition of coach Doc Rivers in Philly is likely what swayed Howard to sign there for 2020-21.

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Last offseason, Philadelphia signed Al Horford to a massive four-year deal to be their insurance policy for Embiid, which did not work out. That being said, the Sixers are hoping Howard can be that rim protector and defensive presence in the frontcourt.

Last season with the Lakers, the veteran center averaged 7.5 points and 7.3 rebounds in limited. He also posted a career-high offensive rating (ORtg) of 125 and defensive rating (DRtg) of 103. Can he duplicate those stats or exceed them? It is a possibility, especially with how the Sixers managed Embiid’s minutes in the regular season. Unlike LA, Howard has a chance to have an expanded role off the bench.