Dwight Howard hasn’t been all that much of a difference-maker on the court over the last few years, but with the market for centers as weak as it has been, he always tends to draw a lot of attention in free agency and is no stranger to being placed on the trading block.
It’s no secret that Howard didn’t get along with James Harden and other teammates, just like he failed to mesh with Kobe Bryant, Stan Van Gundy, and the list goes on.
Howard elected to opt out of his contract with Houston and tested the market. Even as mediocre-at-best/vulnerable as he was last season, on Friday, he essentially got a raise, according to a report [well a slight one at least ($23.3M to $23.5M/year)].
Dwight Howard has reached agreement on a three-year, $70.5 million with the Atlanta Hawks, league sources tell The Vertical.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 1, 2016
The 12-year vet played 71 games last season, averaging 13.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. The fact that the Hawks were willing to give him close to a max deal speaks volumes, and it sure looks like they made this move anticipating Al Horford will depart for another team.
Howard, even with an injury-filled past, can still have an impact defensively and on the glass when his head’s in the game and he’s at his best. But it’s certainly fair to question his motivation/mental toughness, especially at this stage of his career. He’s been a negative locker room presence for every team he’s played with thus far, which doesn’t project well for the Hawks.
Everyone’s getting paid. When Tim Mozgov was signed to a deal with the Lakers that averaged out to $16M/year, the door was opened for Howard, and he’s cashing in.
On paper, the duo of Howard and Tiago Splitter sounds very effective. Whether the Hawks will get the “good” or “bad” version of Howard remains to be seen.