Continuing a topic LeBron James already touched on in a since deleted tweet warning skeptics of the renewed Los Angeles Lakers, Dwight Howard opened his third term with the franchise on Friday saying LA has a group of players who have been snubbed. during his time in the League.
“I think it’s been underrated,” Howard said when asked about Russell Westbrook, the triple-double machine the Lakers acquired last week in a trade with the Washington Wizards. “I think all of us have really been underrated. But I know we appreciate each other. We all appreciate what each of us brings to the table for this team.”
Howard and Westbrook are just two high-voltage names in next season’s Lakers, a team that could very well have six future Hall of Famers among those two, plus Carmelo Anthony and three holdovers from last season’s team. in James, Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol.
The six players have combined for 55 All-Star appearances, six NBA championships, five MVPs and four Defensive Player of the Year awards.
Yet outside of Davis, 28, and Westbrook, 32, it’s a full group of nursing homes by NBA standards. James and Anthony, for example, will represent the first time in League history that a pair of 19-year-old veterans have played together, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
“I just think that if we take care of ourselves off the court, are disciplined with our work ethic and do everything we can to take care of our bodies, we should be fine,” said Howard, who will turn 36 in December. “We’ve all gotten to this point for a reason. I don’t think we’re going to get here and we’ll just stop when we have a big opportunity in front of us.”
“I think we have a new life, all together and playing, I think it will give a new life to be able to see who we have on our list, who will play with us every day. I think we will have so much energy that it will be difficult to contain “.
Howard teamed up with James and Davis to win a championship in the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida, last October. LA’s repeat offer fell through, as the Lakers lost three games in a row after holding a 2-1 lead over the Phoenix Suns to be eliminated in the first round of the 2021 Playoffs.
Los Angeles headquarters completely overhauled the roster following the Lakers’ first-round blackout, trading Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell and a first-round pick in 2021 for Westbrook, and retaining just four. Players from last season’s roster: James, Davis and Gasol, who were already under contract, along with Talen Horton-Tucker, who re-signed with a three-year, $ 32 million extension.
The Lakers also welcomed Trevor Ariza and Wayne Ellington to the organization on Friday, who previously played for the franchise before signing minimum veteran contracts this week to return to Los Angeles and also held a press conference with Horton-Tucker and the new faces, Kendrick Nunn and Malik Monk.
“We’ve all played for a long time,” said Ariza, 36, who revealed that 20 minutes after Westbrook was transferred to Los Angeles, fellow UCLA Bruin began recruiting Ariza to join the Lakers. “We’ve all done things that are pretty amazing to be in the league for so long. So to see all those minds come together and all these talents come together, I think it’s going to be incredible.”
While Howard admitted it was “very upsetting” to have to sign with the 76ers last offseason after failing to agree at the time to stay with LA, his general tone upon his return echoed Ariza’s hopeful attitude. .
“It’s something that is really difficult to understand. Imagine seeing us all on the court at the same time, not on an All-Star team, not on the Olympic team, it is not a charity game, but in a real season we will be together.” Howard said. “That’s going to be great. All of our guys are hungry. We want to win. We want to stay in the best shape possible.
“So I think it will be an incredible moment this year, to have everyone on the court practicing, trying hard and understanding that there is only one mission and that is to win a championship.”