LOS ANGELES: The Los Angeles Lakers might turn to one of their former players to fill the hole left by the potentially season-ending injury to center DeMarcus Cousins.
Center Dwight Howard, who spent one season with the Lakers in 2012-13, is expected to have his contract bought out by the Memphis Grizzlies and has a mutual interest in returning to L.A., according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
ESPN reported later Sunday that the Grizzlies have granted Howard’s representatives to speak with other teams. The report added the Lakers’ interest in Howard is mostly “due diligence” for now.
Howard averaged 17.1 points and 12.4 rebounds for the Lakers that season, but they finished 45-37 and were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs.
Heading into his 16th season, Howard, 33, is coming off a shortened season in which he only played nine games for the Washington Wizards due to back surgery and injuries. But he missed just 20 games over the three previous seasons and holds career averages of 17.4 points, 12.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game.
Cousins suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during a workout in Las Vegas, meaning the four-time All-Star’s entire 2019-20 season is in jeopardy, considering his recent injury history and the typical nine-month recovery window.
Cousins, 29, signed a one-year deal with the Lakers in free agency after a season with the Golden State Warriors. He missed the first half of the 2018-19 season as he recovered from a torn Achilles.
In nine NBA seasons, Cousins has averaged 21.2 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. Joining the Lakers on a US$3.5 million pact reunited Cousins with former New Orleans Pelicans teammate Anthony Davis.
The Lakers reportedly also are interested in free-agent veteran Joakim Noah as they look to avoid playing Davis at center.