LOS ANGELES - A couple of weeks ago, Lakers center Dwight Howard took a strong stance of not playing for the resumption of the season in Orlando, but the air in the Lakers locker room seemed to be less tense as coach Frank Vogel confirmed that they are no longer seeking for a replacement for the Lakers center as he will be part of the delegation going to Orlando.
In addition, Vogel also mentioned that replacement player JR Smith will not be tasked to play like Bradley, the player he replaced, who opted out due to family concerns.
On a video conference call on Wednesday, Vogel spoke to the reporters while at the start of their pre-training camp that focused on the individual workouts before flying to Orlando next week, in his interview Vogel emphasized that the Lakers organization is committed to the backup center.
Vogel also added that they have been communicating with Howard since the challenges pile up wherein they are sending supportive text messages and phone calls, ESPN reported.
He also clarified that Howard's level of participation remains unclear yet but he wants to play and the team is also hopeful to play with the backup center.
Currently, Howard is with his family in Georgia, spending some quality time with his loved ones while complying with the home quarantine and testing protocol required to all participating players in the Orlando games based on a league source.
The six-year-old son of Howard, David is currently under his care after the mother of David, Melissa Rios, died on March 27 due to an epileptic seizure.
According to the agent of Howard, Charles Briscoe, the Lakers center currently not only struggles in juggling his responsibilities as a father while preparing for the resumption of the season but also as a black man as he is deeply affected by the social unrest that the United States faces.
Last month, Howard a statement through Briscoe that basketball or entertainment period is not needed at this moment as it will only distract the public.
Meanwhile, according to ABC News, the vice president of basketball operations and general manager of the Lakers, Rob Pelinka shared this week that the team works with Howard and his agent, Briscoe, the players' association, and the NBA in order to find a track that would work for Howard.
22 teams are currently included in the restart and they are required to submit to the league their 36-person traveling delegation wherein the team roster of up to 17 players is included.
Vogel shared that they do not have any intention to keep Howard off the list as he an important piece in the Lakers.
Vogel also added that the situation of Howard is an extenuating circumstance that he currently works with the league on the possible terms that they both could agree on. Vogel also mentioned that they are hopeful and optimistic about the participation of Howard in Orlando.
The NBA currently is assessing the situation of players on a case-by-case basis about their possible participation in Orlando.