Dwight Howard said the past does not matter as he looks ahead to his second spell with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers brought back Howard on a nonguaranteed, one-year deal last month after DeMarcus Cousins tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
Howard, who spent one rocky season with the team in 2012-13, discussed his decision to return to the Lakers on Wednesday.
“I never had any ill will toward any of the fans here in LA,” the 33-year-old said. “I loved this city from the first moment I’ve been here and started playing in the NBA.
“It was never nothing against anybody here [on] the team or anything like that, it was just a decision I made. I love this city. I love playing in L.A. I’m back here so none of that stuff in the past even really matters to me anymore. I think we all have a fresh start.”
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) August 29, 2019
Howard came to the Lakers the first time with high expectations. But the team struggled and he clashed with team-mates, leading him to eventually leave and join the Houston Rockets.
“It’s been six years, in 2020 it’ll be seven years. … I’m big on numbers,” Howard said. “Seven is for new beginnings … I’m looking forward to having a fresh start with the fans and stuff like that. Show them my only dedication is to putting another banner up here in Los Angeles.”
Howard was a star early in his career with the Orlando Magic but has regressed significantly since then. The eight-time All-Star’s path to return to Los Angeles was cleared after he received a buyout from the Memphis Grizzlies, who acquired him in a deal with the Washington Wizards in the offseason.
The Lakers will be the fifth team Howard has suited up for in the last five seasons.
“We’re trying to win a championship,” Howard said. “And you know, I think that everybody wants to know what level of commitment that I have, and what everybody else on the team has.
“So, I definitely understand it. I’m very committed to helping this team win a championship. It’s not just an interest of mine. It’s something that I’m super-committed to. And I’d rather just let my actions speak louder than any words that I can tell you.”
The Lakers rebuilt their roster when they landed Anthony Davis in a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans to pair with LeBron James. They created cap space to add a third max player but missed out on Kawhi Leonard, who signed with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Los Angeles then signed Avery Bradley, Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, Quinn Cook, Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso and Cousins to deals.
McGee and Howard are the only two healthy centers on the Lakers’ roster.