Dwight Howard is just a bit player on the 2019-20 Los Angeles Lakers, but his presence on the roster is a not-so-subtle reminder of the team's stakes surrounding All-Star forward Anthony Davis.
Both have been elite big men, acquired by the Lakers at great cost while heading into the final years of their respective contracts.
The price for Howard's 2012 arrival, in retrospect, wasn't especially egregious. Andrew Bynum (a key piece sent out by the Lakers) didn't stay healthy, and protections on the draft picks sent to the Orlando Magic coincided perfectly with the team's poor performance over the next few years (post-Kobe Bryant's Achilles injury).
"Right now, it's about today and I'm here with the Lakers and that's the only thing that matters," Howard said at his introductory press conference in 2012. "Whatever happens a year from now we'll wait until that time. Right now, it's all about the Lakers and me starting fresh."
The Lakers made a similar move this past summer to acquire Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, giving up multiple first-round picks and young, emerging players like Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart. Perhaps the cost won't seem as high over time. But on paper, Los Angeles gave up more to get Davis than it did for Howard seven years ago.