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Dwight Howard to rejoin the Lakers, his seventh team in four years

Dwight Howard is returning to the Los Angeles Lakers six years after departing via free agency. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Dwight Howard will sign with the Los Angeles Lakers after completing a buyout with the Memphis Grizzlies, according to multiple reports, joining LeBron James and Anthony Davis in Southern California.

News of Howard’s return to the Lakers comes just days after DeMarcus Cousins tore his ACL, an injury that could sideline him for the upcoming season. Cousins, a four-time all-star center, signed a one-year deal with L.A. earlier this summer and was expected to add size, athleticism and grit to the Lakers’ lineup.

Without DeMarcus Cousins, the Lakers will be worse and the NBA less interesting

Howard, 33, is expected to sign a one-year, nonguaranteed contract worth $2.6 million after clearing waivers, according to the Athletic’s Shams Charania.

The eight-time NBA all-star was traded to the Grizzlies in July after playing just nine games for the Washington Wizards last season.

The Lakers originally acquired Howard as part of a four-team swap in the 2012 offseason, one month after trading for Phoenix Suns superstar Steve Nash. Pairing the duo with Kobe Bryant led to high expectations. A 2012 Sports Illustrated cover featured Howard and Nash. “Now this is going to be fun,” it read.

Los Angeles didn’t have as much fun as it planned that season. The team finished seventh in the Western Conference with a 45-37 record and was swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs.

Howard then left the Lakers (and an extra $30 million on the table) in free agency in 2013 to join the Houston Rockets.

“It was tough,” Howard said at the time. “I enjoyed, for the most part, living here in L.A. I just really think the timing in L.A., it wasn’t right for me. Maybe two years ago, or 2-3 years from now, it would have been the right time. But I just think right now the timing was off for me. That’s not saying that L.A. is a bad place, but I just think it’s all about timing and fit when you’re talking about basketball. You can put anybody together on the court and expect them to win, but the pieces have to really fit in order for a team to be successful and it was very, very tough, man. It’s probably one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make in my life.”

Howard has a tendency to arrive to new teams amid pleasantries and positivity but leave under different circumstances. Los Angeles will be Howard’s seventh team since the beginning of 2016, though he didn’t appear in games for all those franchises. Howard left the Houston Rockets that offseason to join the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks traded him the next offseason to the Charlotte Hornets, who then shipped him to the Brooklyn Nets last summer. He was promptly waived and then signed with the Wizards.

ESPN reported that the Lakers brought in Howard — along with former all-star center Joakim Noah and forward Mo Speights — for a workout this week. According to Charania, the 15-year veteran had some convincing to do with Lakers brass.

Howard visited with the team a day before his scheduled workout and met with former USA Basketball teammate Jason Kidd, who is now an assistant coach for the Lakers, along with Davis, Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee. The meeting was productive, and Howard persuaded his old team to give him another chance.

“League sources said Howard had a convincing and emotional meeting with the players and Lakers officials, explaining how he had reached rock bottom a season ago and needed to find a new mindset in his life,” Charania wrote.

Shortly after that first-round Game 4 loss to the Spurs in 2013, Howard tweeted, “I hope I get the chance to make it up to you!” Thank u la.”

Six years later, Howard now has that chance.

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