Sources: Lakers set to guarantee Dwight Howard contract for remainder of season

LOS ANGELES -- Dwight Howard requested a non-guaranteed contract from the Los Angeles Lakers in his return to L.A. to show how much the opportunity meant to him.

Point proven.

The Lakers have until the 2 p.m. PT deadline Tuesday to waive Howard's contract, the veteran's minimum $2.56 million, but will not do so, league sources told ESPN, thus guaranteeing Howard for the rest of the season.

Tuesday is just a formality, of course. Howard cemented his worth to the Lakers months ago, anchoring L.A.'s second unit at the center position.

Picked up late in the summer as a contingency plan after DeMarcus Cousins suffered a serious knee injury, Howard has been a valuable contributor on a Lakers team that is No. 1 in the Western Conference with a 29-7 record.

Howard, 34, is averaging 7.1 points on 73.8% shooting, 6.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 19.5 minutes per game. He has logged both an 8-for-8 perfect game and a 10-for-10 night so far.

The 16-year veteran has been a pleasant surprise as a positive locker room presence, speaking out in support of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope when the guard was struggling earlier in the season and relishing his split minutes with starting center JaVale McGee.

Howard swatted five blocks Sunday in a 106-99 win against the Detroit Pistons as the Lakers registered 20 rejections as at team for the second-most blocks in franchise history. He later reflected on his up-and-down journey in the league -- from three-time Defensive Player of the Year and perennial All-Star to NBA outcast to now trusted role player on a championship contender.

"You got to be able to stand the rain," Howard said. "That's what makes us humans. That's what makes us. The ability to go through tough times and not allow it to break our character. It's hard to do. It's hard to go through hell and be like, 'OK, just smile it off.' But you never know how close you are to a breakthrough if you just quit on yourself."