Photo: Taoyuan Leopards/Instagram

Dwight Howard, a key member of the Lakers’ championship-winning team in 2020, recently opened up about his contract negotiations with the Purple and Gold following their triumphant season. The veteran center expressed his desire to re-sign with the team and shared the behind-the-scenes story of how the negotiations unfolded through his agent.

In Howard’s own words, he explained, “Could [the Lakers] just give me two years? I just want to be somewhere stable to end my career. We just won a championship. And I felt like I deserved just a cut. It ain’t got to be a lot, just a way to end my career with the Lakers and ride it out on the sunset.” However, he soon discovered that the Lakers were only offering him a one-year deal.

Reflecting on the situation, Howard revealed the rollercoaster of emotions he experienced during the negotiations. He expressed his initial excitement to accept the offer but was soon informed that the Lakers had withdrawn their offer. Howard had even taken to social media, tweeting his intention to return to the Lakers, only to be asked by his agent to delete the tweet.

“So [my agent] was like ‘Well, they’re only going to give you a year.’ And so I was like ‘For real?’ and it was like ‘Yeah.’ And I was like ‘Give me 15 minutes to think about it’ whatever,” Howard recalled. “And then I hung up the phone and then I called him back and I was like ‘Tell them I’ll do it.’ If I do good, hopefully they’ll give me another contract.

“Then he called back and he said ‘The Lakers don’t have an offer for you.’ I had tweeted right after that I was going to come to the Lakers because I had to make that decision so I had tweeted ‘I’m coming back’ or something like that. And then after I tweeted that, he called me back and said ‘Yo, you got to delete that tweet bro.’ I was like ‘Why?’ He was like ‘The Lakers, they not gonna offer you.’ So I was like ‘Damn.’”

The Lakers’ decision to focus on improving the center position left Howard feeling disappointed, as he interpreted it as a slight. “They said they wanted to get better at the center position, so I kind of took that like a slap in the face,” he said. Despite the setback, he eventually signed with the Philadelphia 76ers in November 2021. Remarkably, Howard made a surprising return to the Lakers for the 2021-2022 season, signing a veteran’s minimum contract of $2.6 million.

Currently, Dwight Howard continues his basketball journey as a member of the Taoyuan Leopards, a Taiwanese team he joined in November 2022.