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The Sports Report: Hey, that guy in the Lakers uniform looks familiar

Washington Wizards and the Miami Heat
Dwight Howard
(Getty Images)

Howdy, my name is Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Lakers

Remember last week, when I said that those of you worried that the Lakers were going to sign Dwight Howard should relax, because it wasn’t going to happen? Remember that? Well, never mind.

Howard has agreed to a buyout with the Memphis Grizzlies and will sign a one-year non-guaranteed deal with the Lakers once he clears waivers.

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Howard worked out for the Lakers this week and appears to be fully healthy, having taken last season to recover from surgery on a disc in his lower back.

In the summer of 2012, the Magic traded Howard to the Lakers against his wishes. He spent one season with the Lakers, sometimes clashing with Kobe Bryant and battling a severe shoulder injury during it but still playing in 76 games.

The following summer, the Lakers tried desperately to keep Howard, even erecting a billboard asking him to stay. Howard left and signed with the Houston Rockets instead.

Now, with DeMarcus Cousins injured, Howard has a chance at redemption.

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For those of you gnashing your teeth over this, relax. There’s no real downside here. The deal is going to be non-guaranteed, which means if Howard isn’t on his best behavior, or if his body breaks down, the Lakers can just cut him loose. So, the upside is tremendous, and the downside is negligible. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Meanwhile, NBA columnist Dan Woike checks in with his take on the situation, which you can read in its entirety by clicking here. Here’s an excerpt.

Remember Dwight Howard?

Remember the shot-erasing, lob-catching, post-bullying, slam-dunking sure-fire Hall of Famer? Remember when he was one of the most dominant players in the NBA on both ends of the court? Remember when he mattered so much that his play determined whether his team won or lost? Remember when he was THE guy?

Well, forget all of it.

That’s not the guy the Lakers are getting, and it’s important that they know that. And, it’s even more important that Howard knows it.

The Lakers won’t be signing a star center when Howard officially clears waivers. They won’t be getting someone who will determine whether this season is a success or not. No, the Lakers are signing a part-time player, someone who needs to win single possessions instead of games or championships.

There might be some confusion about this, though. Howard is here because of DeMarcus Cousins’ knee injury. And Cousins was here because he had the kind of talent that could elevate the Lakers to the highest levels.

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And by picking Howard, the team seems to be betting on the only available player with a chance of matching that upside. There’s only one player who has averaged at least 17.4 points, 12.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks — and it’s Howard.

But even if he were the same player — and he’s not — the Lakers don’t need that kind of player. They have Anthony Davis, who is more than capable of being the team’s center in its best lineups. They have LeBron James, who shouldn’t have to sit and watch as Howard tries to back down defenders in the post.

No, the Lakers need a big body to absorb the kind of punishment an NBA center endures, the kind of punishment the team is trying to save Davis from. They need someone to set good screens, to rebound, to protect the basket, to space the floor and to keep the offense from getting stagnant.

And it shouldn’t be surprising that here in the final days of August, the Lakers weren’t able to find a player who could satisfy all those requirements. Maybe Howard can be a rim protector (he blocked only four shots in nine games last season). Maybe he can be a positive impact on the offense without demanding touches.

That’s the Lakers’ hope, and by getting Howard to agree to a non-guaranteed deal, they’re as skeptical as anyone. Still, they picked him.

They could’ve gone with Marreese Speights, the former Golden State Warriors and Clippers big man who shot better than 36% from three-point range in his last three NBA seasons. He would’ve spaced the floor without giving the team much lift on defense.

Joakim Noah proved he still could be an active defender and energetic presence on offense in the second half of last season in Memphis, and he would’ve been a natural fit.

But the best version of Howard is so much better than anyone else the Lakers could’ve signed. It’s just that he’s also, probably, the least predictable.

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NBA

The Sacramento Kings and the NBA announced Friday that they did not find sufficient evidence to support sexual assault accusations against former Lakers coach Luke Walton made by former Spectrum SportsNet host Kelli Tennant in a lawsuit filed April 22.

“During the investigation, more than twenty individuals were interviewed, including Coach Walton, and numerous documents and other relevant materials were reviewed,” read part of the statement. “The investigators made repeated attempts to interview Ms. Tennant, but, through her counsel, she declined the opportunity to participate.”

Walton, who now coaches the Kings, released a statement that said, “I am 100% focused on coaching the Sacramento Kings, and energized to work with this incredible group of players and coaches as we start the preseason. I will have no further comment.”

The Kings said in a statement: “Luke Walton is our head coach and we support him and his team as they continue to prepare for the upcoming season.”

Tennant’s lawsuit is still pending.

Dodgers

The Dodgers wore some hideous-looking “Players Weekend” uniforms on Friday and played like they’d rather be anywhere but in those uniforms in a 10-2 loss to the New York Yankees at Dodger Stadium.

Hyun-Jin Ryu gave up seven runs in over 4 1/3 innings, raising his ERA to 2.00, the highest it has been since he emerged from his start on May 7 with a 2.03 ERA.

The Yankees finished with five home runs — the most the Dodgers have allowed in a game this season.

In short, it must be what it was like for most teams to play the Dodgers this season.

“We haven’t had many games like this,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I thought they were taking some good swings off Hyun-Jin. His command wasn’t where it needed to be tonight. He left balls out over, and those guys can slug. He made some mistakes.”

Read more

Dylan Hernandez: Dodgers’ humbling loss to Yankees reveals potential woes

Odds and ends

El Tráfico showdown: LAFC and Galaxy vie for supremacy in L.A.... NFL preseason: Bills rally past Lions as both teams suffer injuries to key players; Buccaneers edge Browns.... Kole Calhoun goes four for four, but Angels lose yet another one-run game.... Linebacker Natrez Patrick, receiver Nsimba Webster aim to convince Rams to keep them.... USC corners Chris Steele and Isaac Taylor-Stuart bring talent, if not experience, to position.... Chargers strong safety Adrian Phillips wants to keep special teams role.... Lawsuit by former USC football coach ordered to arbitration.... Angels lease talks: Mayor insists team pays ‘market prices’ for stadium land.... Football’s ‘Fab Four’ gives unique perspective on the game in NFL Films documentary.

Today’s local major sports schedule

All times Pacific

New York Yankees at Dodgers, 1 p.m., FS1, Spectrum Sportsnet, AM 570

Angels at Houston, 4 p.m., FSW, 830 AM

Born on this date

1890: Swimmer/surfer Duke Kahanamoku (d. 1968)

1952: NFL coach Mike Shanahan

1960: Baseball player Cal Ripken Jr.

1965: UCLA/NBA player Reggie Miller

1968: Former Angel Tim Salmon

1978: Former Dodger Rafael Furcal

1986: Former Angel Nick Adenhart (d. 2009)

1987: Kings player Anze Kopitar

Died on this date

2011: Baseball player Mike Flanagan, 59

And finally

Cal Ripken Jr. breaks Lou Gehrig‘s games played streak. Watch it here.

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email me by clicking here. If you want to subscribe, click here.


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