LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard will be with his team in Orlando when the NBA resumes its season at the end of July.
In an appearance on CNN Monday night, Howard said that he feels the team has a good chance of winning the title, and that he feels he has an obligation to his teammates to compete.
The Lakers are slated to travel to Walt Disney World Thursday to begin their mini-training camp ahead of the season restart.
There had been questions surrounding whether the 34-year-old Howard would opt out of the restarted season following the death of his son’s mother a few months ago and his desire not to take away from the momentum of social justice reform.
“I feel like we have a great opportunity, the Lakers do, to win the title this year,” Howard said. “I have a contractual obligation to my teammates, to my fans, the Lakers, the organization and everyone. But at the same time, I also have an obligation to my family and my community. Yes, I will be joining my team in Orlando, but during that time, we will begin a lot of work 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.”
While Howard will be playing in the restart, he is also planning to continue to help move the social justice reform movement forward. Howard said that he will be donating his paychecks to his “Breathe Again” campaign which aims to bridge gaps between races and people in order to end racism and hatred.
“I’m going to use my salary,” Howard stated. “All the money, the paychecks I’ll be getting down in the bubble, to help push this ‘Breathe Again’ movement and just make sure people don’t forget about what’s going on in our society.”
Howard’s decision to play is a relief for the Lakers as the July 1st deadline to sign players as replacements for those opting out had passed. If he had decided not to play, the Lakers would not have been able to sign a replacement.
Howard has been a key member of the team’s rotation this season averaging just under 20 minutes a night with seven points and seven rebounds per outing.
The Lakers will play three scrimmages before they officially restart regular season play July 30 against their crosstown rival Clippers.