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Dwight Howard to join Lakers for NBA restart, donate salary

Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (39) plays to donate the remainder of his 2019-20 salary to his charitable initiative Breathe Again. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI
Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (39) plays to donate the remainder of his 2019-20 salary to his charitable initiative Breathe Again. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

July 7 (UPI) -- Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard will join the team for the resumed NBA season this month in Orlando after concern that he could opt out.

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

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Howard will donate the remainder of his season salary -- expected to be $700,000 -- to his Breathe Again campaign with his D12 Foundation. Breathe Again aims to bridge gaps among races and to end racism and hatred

"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 to my community," Howard said.

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"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."

Howard in May called basketball and entertainment "distractions" amid the Black Lives Matter social justice movement. He also cares for his 6-year-old son, David, whose mother died in March. Howard is in Georgia to satisfy the NBA's home quarantine and testing protocols for players who will participate in the season restart.

The Lakers said last week that they expected Howard to join the team for the resumed season.

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The 2019-20 NBA season has been suspended since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic but is scheduled to resume July 30 at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando. Some Lakers players participated in a practice last week in El Segundo, Calif. Howard said he believes the resumed season will happen, despite players who have decided to opt out and increased concern about the pandemic.

"The NBA has done a really good job these last couple of weeks of trying to do the best they can to make sure the bubble is as safe as possible for all the players that will be in attendance," Howard said.

"They have been working countless hours to make sure everything is right for everybody that's down there and the families that will be joining later on."

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The 6-foot-10, 265-pound three-time Defensive Player of the Year averaged 7.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and just over 19 minutes per game in 62 appearances before the season was suspended.

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