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Lakers' Dwight Howard: 'Unity of My People Would be an Even Bigger Championship'

Lakers center Dwight Howard, one of the more than 80 NBA players on a conference call Friday to discuss the league's return to play, agrees with Nets guard Kyrie Irving's hesitation about the league returning this summer, citing a desire not to distract from the current Black Lives Matter movement.

Howard, through his agent, told CNN's Jill Martin that, "Basketball, or entertainment period, isn't needed at this moment, and will only be a distraction...

"...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...No Basketball till we get things resolved."

“We understand the players’ concerns and are working with the Players Association on finding the right balance to address them," NBA spokesman Mike Bass told The New York Times on Sunday.

On Sunday, Howard's agent, Charles Briscoe, said Howard had yet to make a decision on whether or not to play again this season, and is instead focusing on the racial injustice issues at hand, per ESPN's Dave McMenamin.

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Citing an anonymous player, McMenamin reports that there is no divide among the Lakers' roster, and that players have stressed there is still time to establish a united front before training camp begins later this month.

On June 5, the NBPA approved further negotiations with the NBA on a 22-team return to play restart for the 2019-20 NBA season in Orlando. But while the league's health protocol continues to be ironed out, a number of players also appear to be pushing back on the idea of returning amid the current racial climate. 

Clippers guard Lou Williams said publicly on Saturday that resuming the season would be “a distraction” that could potentially keep societal change from continuing to happen.

However, Rockets guard Austin Rivers put out a lengthy statement on Instagram stating that he believes players could use the money and platform they'd get from playing out the season to further the BLM movement. 

“Us coming back would put money in all of our (NBA players’) pockets,” Rivers wrote. “With this money you could help out even more people and continue to give more importantly your time and energy towards the BLM movement. Which I’m 100% on board with. Because change needs to happen and injustice has been going on too long.”

The league is reportedly not requiring its players to participate in the season restart if they are uncomfortable doing so. Players who voluntarily sit out would lose a portion of their salaries, but would otherwise face no consequences.

The NBA reportedly informed teams it would begin testing players and staff that will take part in the league's presumed resumption in Orlando on June 23. The season is expected to resume July 30.