Dwight Howard has agreed to join the Philadelphia 76ers on a one-year deal after celebrating an NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Howard's agent Charles Briscoe confirmed the free agency move to ESPN on Friday – the eight-time All-Star teaming up with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in Philadelphia.

Veteran center Howard was a free agent following the 2019-20 season, having signed a one-year contract in Los Angeles, where he helped the Lakers to their first title since 2010.

It appeared Howard was heading back to LeBron James' Lakers on Friday, when he tweeted – and later deleted – a Twitter post, which read: "I'm staying right where I belong. Laker nation I love y'all. Purple and gold never gets old."

Later, speculation of Howard's switch to the 76ers emerged – the 34-year-old's deal reportedly for the veterans minimum exception of $2.6million.

Howard will reunite with former general manager Daryl Morey in Philadelphia after the pair worked together at the Houston Rockets between 2013 and 2016.

Morey has made moves as president of basketball operations in Philadelphia, dealing Al Horford and draft picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder for three-time champion and Howard's former Lakers team-mate Danny Green and Terrance Ferguson.

The 76ers – swept in the first round of last season's playoffs, prompting Doc Rivers' arrival – also acquired Seth Curry from the Dallas Mavericks for Josh Richardson and pick 36.

In his second stint with the Lakers, Howard averaged 7.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game as the storied franchise ended their decade-long drought.

Howard made a significant contribution upon his return following his disappointing first spell in 2012-13 – he and JaVale McGee becoming the first pair of NBA team-mates to each have 75-plus blocks while shooting 60.0-plus per cent from the field in the same regular season since blocks became an official stat in 1973-74.

With Howard departing, the Lakers have turned to Los Angeles Clippers star and Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell.

Harrell's agent Rich Paul confirmed the two-year, $19million cross-town deal to ESPN.

The 26-year-old averaged 18.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game as the Clippers sensationally squandered a 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semi-finals.

Clippers team-mate Ivica Zubac (110) had the third-highest plus-minus in the postseason, behind Lakers pair Anthony Davis (131) and Green (118). Harrell was among the lowest with -68 – only Tim Hardaway Jr. (-82), Monte Morris (-82), Tyler Johnson (-73) and Maxi Kleber (-72) were worse.

Dwight Howard has agreed to join the Philadelphia 76ers on a one-year deal after celebrating an NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Howard's agent Charles Briscoe confirmed the free agency move to ESPN on Friday – the eight-time All-Star teaming up with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in Philadelphia.

Veteran center Howard was a free agent following the 2019-20 season, having signed a one-year contract in Los Angeles, where he helped the Lakers to their first title since 2010.

It appeared Howard was heading back to LeBron James' Lakers on Friday, when he tweeted – and later deleted – a Twitter post, which read: "I'm staying right where I belong. Laker nation I love y'all. Purple and gold never gets old."

Later, speculation of Howard's switch to the 76ers emerged – the 34-year-old's deal reportedly for the veterans minimum exception of $2.6million.

Howard will reunite with former general manager Daryl Morey in Philadelphia after the pair worked together at the Houston Rockets between 2013 and 2016.

Morey has made moves as president of basketball operations in Philadelphia, dealing Al Horford and draft picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder for three-time champion and Howard's former Lakers team-mate Danny Green and Terrance Ferguson.

The 76ers – swept in the first round of last season's playoffs, prompting Doc Rivers' arrival – also acquired Seth Curry from the Dallas Mavericks for Josh Richardson and pick 36.

In his second stint with the Lakers, Howard averaged 7.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game as the storied franchise ended their decade-long drought.

Howard made a significant contribution upon his return following his disappointing first spell in 2012-13 – he and JaVale McGee becoming the first pair of NBA team-mates to each have 75-plus blocks while shooting 60.0-plus per cent from the field in the same regular season since blocks became an official stat in 1973-74.

With Howard departing, the Lakers have turned to Los Angeles Clippers star and Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell.

Harrell's agent Rich Paul confirmed the two-year, $19million cross-town deal to ESPN.

The 26-year-old averaged 18.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game as the Clippers sensationally squandered a 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semi-finals.

Clippers team-mate Ivica Zubac (110) had the third-highest plus-minus in the postseason, behind Lakers pair Anthony Davis (131) and Green (118). Harrell was among the lowest with -68 – only Tim Hardaway Jr. (-82), Monte Morris (-82), Tyler Johnson (-73) and Maxi Kleber (-72) were worse.

After years of waiting and the loss of their favourite son in January, the Los Angeles Lakers finally returned to the summit of NBA basketball.

All eyes were on LeBron James and the Lakers in 2019-20 – the superstar veteran coming off a difficult first season in Los Angeles.

The Lakers also mourned the tragic death of five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant following a helicopter crash at the start of the year.

Add in a lengthy playoff drought, the coronavirus pandemic and Orlando bubble, and the Lakers' championship quest was far from easy.

However, the Western Conference top seeds – led by James and Anthony Davis – defied the ominous challenges to win their first title since 2010, seeing off the Miami Heat in six games at Walt Disney World Resort.

As the Lakers reflect on their memorable 17th championship to equal the Boston Celtics' all-time record, we review the team's 2019-20 campaign using Stats Perform data.

 

Equal longest drought snapped

The Lakers had missed the playoffs for six successive seasons prior to reigning supreme this campaign.

Not since 2013, when the Lakers were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round, had Los Angeles featured in the playoffs.

But the Lakers' success – behind James' 11th Finals triple-double in Game 6 – tied the longest postseason drought in NBA history that a team ended by winning the title, matching the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers.

LeBron and Davis make history

So much was expected of the Lakers duo when Davis finally swapped the New Orleans Pelicans for LA in a blockbuster trade at the start of the season.

James was desperate to team up with a genuine superstar at Staples Center after a forgettable first term in Los Angeles, where the former was hampered by form and fitness issues as Luke Walton departed following another season without a playoff appearance.

Davis' arrival and the appointment of Frank Vogel helped put the Lakers on track for silverware as city rivals the Los Angeles Clippers countered with their own superstar duo – Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

All-Star Davis and James became the first pair of team-mates in NBA history to each have 500-plus points and 200-plus rebounds in the same postseason.

James also became the first player in NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL history to win the Finals MVP award for three different teams, having also been crowned Most Valuable Player with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Heat, as he celebrated a fourth championship.

The Lakers also have history with ageing stars leading them to championships. The three oldest players ever to win the Finals MVP all did so while playing for the famed franchise – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38 years and 54 days) in 1985, James (35 years and 286 days) and Wilt Chamberlain (35 years and 260 days) in 1972.

 

Unheralded pair shine

With all the spotlight on James and Davis, Lakers team-mates Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee made significant contributions at centre, especially in the regular season.

Howard and McGee became the first pair of NBA team-mates to each have 75-plus blocks while shooting 60.0-plus per cent from the field in the same regular season since blocks became an official stat in 1973-74.

The return of 2004 number one pick Howard after a disappointing first spell in Los Angeles in 2012-13 proved a shrewd piece of business.

 

Lakers plagued by three-point issues

There was so much good about the Lakers in 2019-20, but their shooting from beyond the arc remains a problem.

The Lakers have shot under 35.0 per cent from three-point range in the regular season in each of the last six seasons, the longest active streak in the NBA.

That is also the longest streak for the Lakers since they shot under 35.0 per cent in seven consecutive seasons from 1979-80 to 1985-86, which was the first seven campaigns the three-point line was in existence.

The Lakers became the first team to with the title despite shooting a lower percentage from three-point range than their opponents in the playoffs since the 2000 LA team.

Dwight Howard has confirmed he will play for the Los Angeles Lakers when the NBA season resumes later this month.

The 2019-20 campaign will recommence on July 30 with a 22-team tournament in Orlando, Florida following the coronavirus-enforced break.

Last month, Lakers center Howard said the return of basketball would "only be a distraction" from the fight against social and racial injustice in the wake of protests across the world following the death of George Floyd in May.

Howard's agent admitted he was unsure if the eight-time All-Star would take part in the Orlando tournament, yet the Lakers center now intends to finish the campaign and donate the remainder of his salary to the 'Breathe Again' campaign.

"Yes, I will be joining my team in Orlando," Howard told CNN.

"I have a contractual obligation to my team-mates, to my fans, the Lakers, the organisation and everyone, but at the same time, I also have an obligation to my family and to my community.

"We will be getting a lot of work done here in Atlanta and around the nation as far as making sure people don't forget about us and what's going on in our communities."

On the importance of donating his salary, Howard added: "During my time in the bubble, I will use that time to talk about Breathe Again, and I'm going to use my salary - all the money, the paychecks that I'll be getting from going down in the bubble - to help push this Breathe Again [initiative], push our movement and just make sure that people don't forget about what's going on in our society."

The 49-14 Lakers have already confirmed their spot in the NBA post-season and have the best record in the Western Conference.

Howard, the first overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, is yet to win a championship ring.

Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard has not decided whether to play if the NBA resumes amid the 'Black Lives Matter' movement, according to his agent Charles Briscoe.

The NBA is planning to restart the coronavirus-hit 2019-20 season via a 22-team format at Walt Disney World Resort in July after the campaign was suspended in March.

However, eight-time All-Star Howard believes the return of the NBA would be an unwelcome distraction from the importance of the anti-racism and social injustice protests in the United States as Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving leads calls for basketball not to resume.

There have been nationwide protests after George Floyd – an African-American man – was killed in police custody in Minneapolis last month when a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Responding to Howard's statement on Sunday, Briscoe told ESPN: "The statement was about social injustice and racism. Yet everybody is still talking about whether basketball should be played.

"He isn't saying that basketball shouldn't be. He's just saying that you should not be taking attention away from what's going on in the country to talk about basketball. Basketball is just a sport, at the end of the day.

"But what's going on with people dying in the streets, that's something real. That statement, it had nothing to do with sports. It had everything to do with racism and social injustice."

Howard issued a statement via his agent to CNN, which read: "I agree with Kyrie. Basketball, or entertainment period, isn't needed at this moment, and will only be a distraction.

"Sure it might not distract us players, but we have resources at hand [the] majority of our community don't have. And the smallest distraction for them can start a trickle-down effect that may never stop. Especially with the way the climate is now.

"I would love nothing more than to win my very first NBA Championship. But the unity of My People would be an even bigger Championship, that's just to [sic] beautiful to pass up.

"What better time than now for us to be focusing on our families. This is a rare opportunity that, I believe, we as a community should be taking full advantage of.

"When have we ever had this amount of time to sit and be with our families. This is where our Unity starts. At home! With Family!! European Colonisation stripped us of our rich history, and we have yet to sit down and figure us out. The less distractions, the more we can put into action into rediscovering ourselves.

"Nations come out of families. Black/African American is not a Nation or Nationality. It's time Our Families became their own Nations. No Basketball till we get things resolved."

Los Angeles Lakers star Dwight Howard believes the return of the NBA would be an unwelcome distraction from the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The league is still negotiating the details of a 2020 restart over three months after the coronavirus pandemic forced the season to be suspended.

There are said to be plans to resume the regular season from July 30 on a modified schedule, although a handful of players reportedly expressed concerns about injury risks during a conference call this week.

On the same call involving 80 players on Friday, Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving is said to have led calls for basketball not to return while protests against racial injustice and police brutality continue across the United States.

Anti-racism demonstrations have been held across the world following the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis last month when a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Renewed protests have occurred in Atlanta after African-American man Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by police at a drive-through on Friday, an incident that led to the resignation of the city's police chief.

On Sunday, eight-time All-Star Howard issued a statement via his agent to CNN in which he made it clear he would give up the chance to win a first NBA Championship for "the unity of my people".

"I agree with Kyrie. Basketball, or entertainment period, isn't needed at this moment, and will only be a distraction," the statement said.

"Sure it might not distract us players, but we have resources at hand [the] majority of our community don't have.

"And the smallest distraction for them can start a trickle-down effect that may never stop. Especially with the way the climate is now.

"I would love nothing more than to win my very first NBA Championship. But the unity of My People would be an even bigger Championship, that's just to [sic] beautiful to pass up.

"What better time than now for us to be focusing on our families. This is a rare opportunity that, I believe, we as a community should be taking full advantage of.

"When have we ever had this amount of time to sit and be with our families. This is where our Unity starts. At home! With Family!!

"European Colonisation stripped us of our rich history, and we have yet to sit down and figure us out. The less distractions, the more we can put into action into rediscovering ourselves.

"Nations come out of families. Black/African American is not a Nation or Nationality. It's time Our Families became their own Nations. No Basketball till we get things resolved."

Former NBA All-Star Slam Dunk champion Dwight Howard will participate in the competition for the first time in 11 years as the league revealed the fields for the three challenges.

Howard was memorably crowned champion during his time with the Orlando Magic in 2008, however, the Los Angeles Lakers center last featured in 2009.

The eight-time All-Star headlines the field for the Slam Dunk contest, which will take place at the United Center in Chicago on February 15.

This is the first time the Slam Dunk event is being held in Chicago since 1998, when Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan famously outduelled the Atlanta Hawks' Dominique Wilkins.

Hamidou Diallo of the Oklahoma City Thunder won the contest last year.

Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Harris will defend his Three-Point Contest title, while Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum headlines the field for the Skills Challenge.

 

Skills Challenge (first event)

Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
Patrick Beverley, Los Angeles Clippers
Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Nets
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
Derrick Rose, Detroit Pistons
Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers
Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

Three-Point Contest (second event)

Davis Bertans, Washington Wizards
Devonte' Graham, Charlotte Hornets
Joe Harris, Brooklyn Nets
Buddy Hield, Sacramento Kings
Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Duncan Robinson, Miami Heat
Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks

Slam Dunk (third event)

Pat Connaughton, Milwaukee Bucks
Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic
Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers
Derrick Jones Jr., Miami Heat

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