Dwight Howard is going home.
Dwight Howard is also going to a team and organization built on selflessness, acceptance of roles, ball movement, and just fitting in. Is he up to that?
We’re about to find out because Dwight Howard is going to Atlanta, something broken by Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports and since confirmed by other sources.
That works out to an average of $23.5 million a season (fully guaranteed, no option years), allowing Howard to save face after opting out of a $23 million season in Houston. Some teams balked at giving him that number (but if Timofey Mozgov can get $16 million a year, Howard had to be in this range).
Howard can still put up numbers: he averaged 13.7 points a game on only 8.5 shot attempts, and added 11.8 rebounds a night last season. He played good defense, although not at the pre back surgery levels.
The issue with Howard has been ego and fit. While the NBA has trended smaller and looking for bigs who are mobile, Howard has demanded to play in the post and try to be Shaq circa 2001. That doesn’t work anymore — even true centers like DeMarcus Cousins can now step out and space the floor a little. It’s frustrating because Howard has always been a much better pick-and-roll big man than a post-up big, but somehow he let Shaq/Barkley/whoever get into his head and convince him he needed to be this old school center. Which he’s not.
If Howard buys into his role, defends and rebounds, and can stay healthy, he can be a quality center for the Hawks and improve that team (providing they can keep Al Horford, no sure thing). But there is a wake of broken relationships and fired coaches in Howard’s wake that make you question if things can be different this time.
Even back in his hometown.