The Philadelphia 76ers’ first move of NBA free agency came fairly quickly, as they agreed to re-sign Furkan Korkmaz on a good value three-year, $15 million deal. The next piece of news sees someone leaving Philly, as Shams Charania reported that Dwight Howard is returning to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Free agent center Dwight Howard has agreed to return to the Los Angeles Lakers, his agent Qais Haider tells @TheAthletic @Stadium.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 2, 2021
Details of the contract haven’t been reported yet, but it’s likely for the veteran minimum.
Howard clearly wasn’t perfect for the Sixers. He committed a surprising amount of mistakes and fouls for someone with so much experience, he couldn’t space the floor at all, and he had a rough series in the second round of the playoffs against Atlanta.
However, as a backup center on a minimum deal, Howard was just fine for how little he cost. He offered some rim protection, he was a solid screen setter, he rebounded at a high level all season (he had the best total rebound percentage of his career at 26.7), and he provided the kind of lob threat as a roller that the Sixers hadn’t typically had off the bench. It’s also not Howard’s fault that the Sixers weren’t able to land another backup center option who could space the floor and fit far better alongside Ben Simmons.
Howard was a popular member of the team and he received plenty of praise from teammates all year for his energy and leadership off the court. He’ll certainly be missed in that regard, but will have a shot at another ring with the Lakers.
L.A. has been busy in free agency already, agreeing to one-year deals with Wayne Ellington and Trevor Ariza. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reported the departure of Alex Caruso, who’s joining the Chicago Bulls on a four-year, $37 million contract.
As the Sixers were able to re-sign Korkmaz with his full Bird Rights, they still have their full taxpayer midlevel exception (which starts at a salary of $5.9 million) and minimum contracts to fill out the rest of their roster and find a new backup center. There’s also the possibility of Paul Reed getting a shot at a few more minutes next season after his promising rookie year and dominance in the G League. He deserves a chance, especially if he makes some developments to his game and adds some strength this summer. The Sixers also have new second-round pick Charles Bassey as another backup center prospect, but it’s hard to expect reliable contributions from Reed or Bassey for a contending team this early in their careers. More veteran help will be needed.
Plenty of backup bigs are already reaching agreements around the league, so it will be interesting to see what the Sixers make happen next as the initial rush of deals starts to slow down.