Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard is uncertain about joining the team in Orlando for the restart of the 2019-20 season, general manager Rob Pelinka said Tuesday.
Pelinka said the mother of one of Howard’s children passed away recently, adding another taxing element to Howard’s decision.
In a Zoom videoconference with reporters, Pelinka said Howard is working through his concerns and discussing options with his agent.
Players were required to give teams formal notice of extenuating circumstances and declare whether they planned to opt out of games, and Howard did not do so, Pelinka said.
In addition to the family matter, Howard made a strong statement in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis saying basketball was not a priority.
Howard told CNN that now is not the time for games. He said the Black community must put itself first now.
“Basketball, or entertainment period, isn’t needed at this moment, and will only be a distraction,” Howard’s lengthy statement began.
“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?
“This is a rare opportunity that, I believe, we as a community should be taking full advantage of. When have we ever had this amount of time to sit and be with our families? This is where our Unity starts. At home! With Family!! European Colonization stripped us of our rich history, and we have yet to sit down and figure us out. The less distractions, the more we can put into action into rediscovering ourselves. Nations come out of families. Black/African American is not a Nation or Nationality. It’s time Our Families became their own Nations. No Basketball till we get things resolved.”
The NBA intends to finish the coronavirus-interrupted season and the playoffs at the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla. Training camp is set to be held July 9-29 before the season restarts July 30.
The league plans to allow players to put a social cause or personal message on the backs of their jerseys, according to reports.