With one year remaining on Howard's contract heading into the 2012-13 season, the Magic sent Howard to the Lakers as part of a four-team trade. Howard gained notoriety for his dunking, as well, becoming a fan favorite at the annual Slam Dunk Contest. After a few years where it looked like the final stages of Howard's career would be filled with disappointment, his return to the Lakers has left the potential for a strong ending to his last chapter. RELATED: What Dwight Howard Believes Has Led to Career Revival With Lakers. Floor spacing big men are prized. They didn't have shooting guard Klay Thompson last season and point guard Stephen Curry was limited to five games, as both were out with injuries. The Howard-Nash combination didn't work in LA. The Magic and Howard reached the NBA Finals once, in 2009. "You know, even after we won the Western Conference finals I wanted to be like, all right, this is not the goal just to win with the Western Conference finals. Back then, a 23-year old Howard believed that trip would be the first of many. The first time Dwight Howard joined the Lakers, he posed for a Sports Illustrated cover with Steve Nash. Last summer, Howard’s career was on life support. Although point guard LaMelo Ball and center James Wiseman are among the top prospects in this year's draft class, Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle recently wrote that Golden State "almost certainly" won't take either at No. Los Angeles once represented Howard’s worst professional experience. Kobe Bryant fueled it, famously calling Howard “soft” after an on-court altercation a season after Howard left the Lakers, in 2013. "I sit at home, sit in the room, and I walk around the bubble and I just think about how that feeling would be just to hold up that trophy. He’s punched his ticket to the Hall of Fame. He ultimately got what he sought: big markets, star teammates, and now a championship ring. Embracing his "Superman" nickname brought on by his chiseled physique and freakish athleticism, Howard came out of a phone booth at the 2008 Slam Dunk Contest wearing a Superman shirt and cape. He doesn’t accept a secondary role with the Lakers—one that came with a non-guaranteed contract—he’s probably putting up numbers in Europe or China. He has set screens, rebounded and bodied up big men, so Anthony Davis has not had to. Latest on Warriors' Plans for No. But it will go down, unofficially, as one of Howard’s more impactful. Worse, the front office worried that Howard’s attitude would rub off on the young players. This season, Howard set a career-high in three-pointers made … with three. Less public, but no less damaging to Howard’s reputation, was the cold war he waged with James Harden, his teammate for three seasons in Houston. Every day since we been in the bubble it's been like, man, this is a great opportunity. The nearly decade-long downturn of Howard’s career has many layers. I think it will all be up to him.”. It was obvious from the start that Howard wouldn't be counted on for big minutes anymore. I would still classify him as above average. There will be no multiyear deal waiting for him in the offseason. Howard went to the Rockets as they began to build around James Harden, and that's when Howard's high-flying play style began to catch up with him. Although the Warriors went an NBA-worst 15-50 during the 2019-20 season, they could quickly return to contention next season. Dwight Howard emotionally opens up about 2020 being the worst year of 6-yr-old son's life 4 days ago LeBron James FaceTimes mother Gloria right after winning fourth NBA championship title All Rights Reserved. “It never leaves my mind,” Howard said. Dwight Howard’s 2019-20 season won’t end—whenever this snake bitten season ultimately ends—with Howard atop team’s free agent wish lists. The back problems that began in Orlando diminished his athleticism. He’s helped backstop a top-five defense. He underwent surgery on a gluteal injury and didn't return the rest of the season. Dwight Howard has played for six different teams over his 16-year NBA career. He was the obvious No. “I had a chance to get there once. Moments after that, it was Dwight Howard’s turn to feel sentimental, taking to Instagram Live his thoughts after also bagging his first NBA championship. It’s not a word Howard has always been associated with. Before free agency begins, the Warriors will have the opportunity to add to their roster via the 2020 NBA draft. "Just understanding that coming back to this team, I was going to give whatever I had to give up just to be the best player I can be for this team.”. He scored 13-points in Game 1 and has been an effective defender against Nikola Jokic throughout the series. Howard, with nearly a quarter of a billion in career earnings, led a flashy lifestyle. The back just makes it a little tougher to get down in a stance, in pick-and-roll defense. It's not yet clear when free agency will begin, but National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts recently told Charania that it should start no later than Dec. 1. His ability to slide over from the weak side and spoil what appeared to be wide open layups and dunks earned Howard three Defensive Player of the Year honors. Howard averaged a double-double every year he played for the Magic (and for the first 14 years of his NBA career overall). NBA FINALS: Preview predictions for Heat-Lakers. © 2020 ABG-SI LLC. But with James signed on for at least two more seasons and Davis likely re-upping long term, there will be a need for a physical five man willing to throw his body around. He did a fantastic job in Orlando. NBA FINALS: How Bam Adebayo got his nickname and became a rising star. Los Angeles had already traded for Anthony Davis and re-signed JaVale McGee. After winning his first career NBA title with the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, Howard is set to hit free agency as he only signed a one-year contract with them last offseason. “As a professional,” Howard said, “you have got to always stay ready.”, Professional. It’s been rough for him since then. The pair was supposed to buoy the latter stages of Kobe Bryant's career to more NBA Finals glory. According to The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor, Golden State "will likely target a wing in the draft, according to league sources." League sources believe Golden State loves his upside as a point-forward type," Letourneau wrote. He played 18.9 minutes, attempted just four shots and saw his free throw percentage (51.4) drop nearly ten points. When L.A. didn’t need him, like against undersized Houston, Howard was a good soldier. There will be a need for Dwight Howard. So, perhaps, this is a redemption story. At 34, Howard’s career will continue only if a team with a hole in the middle decides to throw a few bucks at Howard on a short term deal. Dwight Howard Getty Images. NBA FINALS: Who is Lakers undrafted guard Alex Caruso? The second return to the Lakers fell into place last offseason after star big man DeMarcus Cousins suffered a torn ACL. ", https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/34/54/dwight-howard-093020-getty-ftr_1qtry2o4i7mfx1f1fbey3tnkpt.jpg?t=-517243772&w=500&quality=80, How Bam Adebayo got his nickname and became a rising star. To wish for what he once had. “He’s a good guy. "Should the Warriors not get an enticing trade offer, I could see them staying at No. Health, for one. "I think it'll be one of the best feelings in the world," Howard told reporters Tuesday. When they did, against Denver, Howard was ready. Dwight Howard thrives as Orlando's No. “He is still not bad in either one of those areas. "Everyone I've talked to in the organization doesn't feel comfortable spending the kind of money associated with an early lottery pick on a center when Golden State prefers to play a positionless, up-tempo style," Letourneau wrote. 2 overall pick. Today, they are luxuries. “He’s not going to get smaller, he’s not going to get less physical. Howard has found a role that suits him, and a locker room with the right leaders to handle any chemistry issues that come up. He put up 12 points and 11 rebounds in Game 4 and followed that with nine and nine in Game 5. Dwight Howard's second act with the Lakers is paying off after years of searching for the right role that suits him. He has quietly accepted a backup role to JaVale McGee. The Hornets were his best option in 2017-18, and then Howard went to the Wizards in 2018-19 but played only nine games. No prominent role. But for the first time in a few years, Howard would be on a real contender. Howard entered the NBA out of high school, a 19-year old from Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy. He then averaged 5.8 points and 4.6 rebounds in 15.7 minutes over 18 postseason games, making seven starts. When Howard was drafted, in 2004, teams still built around low post pivots. He continued to average double-doubles and block a lot of shots — although his scoring dropped off a bit with more mouths to feed. And while a date hasn't been officially set, Golden State knows it owns the No. Officially, he had been on five teams in two years. As L.A. celebrated, Howard and Jameer Nelson remained on the Magic bench, soaking it in, fueling up for another title run that never came. The things they are asking him to do, he can do for 3, 4, even 5 years. During … Both O'Connor and Letourneau reported that one strong possibility is the Warriors will take Deni Avdija, a 6'9" forward who played for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel. Has Howard changed? I always promised myself, if I had a chance to get back there, I would give my teammates everything that I’ve got.”, And he has. Dwight Howard has played for six different teams over his 16-year NBA career. This is not a redemption story. Instead, the Hornets dumped him. He’ll never be an offensive focal point. But before there was nobody better.”. But according to The Athletic's Shams Charania, Howard and the Lakers have mutual interest in working out a new deal this offseason. The perception that winning wasn’t his top priority. He’s made plenty of money. He pulled down 7.3 rebounds (ditto). He proceeded to dunk from just inside the free-throw line. But it all came at a great cost, perhaps leaving him to wonder how his career would have played out if he had stayed in Orlando. Per Charania, the Golden State Warriors are "among the contenders also expected to have interest in Howard.". Still, Howard’s biggest problem has long been … Howard. Letourneau added that Iowa State point guard Tyrese Haliburton and Florida State guard Devin Vassell would also get "serious consideration" from the Warriors. If you look at Howard's stats, you wouldn't say he struggled in LA or in his subsequent stop in Houston. Howard started Games 4 and 5 as the Lakers closed out the Nuggets, helping to slow down Nikola Jokic.