Dwight Howard started his career with the Orlando Magic, and new NBA rumors are suggesting that the big man could reunite with the team that drafted him in 2004 should the team hire the right coach.
The rumors suggest that Dwight Howard will be searching for a new team despite holding a lucrative $23.2 million player option for the upcoming season, according to ESPN. For his part, Dwight has yet to express his intentions — either staying with the Houston Rockets or signing elsewhere — despite rumors that Howard will seek a max contract in free agency that could be valued at $30 million annually.
What could lead to Dwight Howard seeking a new team is his Houston teammate James Harden, according to Bleacher Report. The 30-year-old center wants to be featured in an offense, a situation that isn’t present with ball-dominant James Harden leading the way. That was evident this season as Howard took the fewest shots per game (8.5) of any season since his rookie year with the Orlando Magic. Because the two players have a hard time coexisting in the same offense, the report suggested Dwight would look toward free agency for a new home.
SB Nation suggested that the Orlando Magic are one of four favorites to land Dwight Howard if the rumors are true and the big man tests free agency. In addition to the Orlando Magic, suitors for Dwight Howard include the Charlotte Hornets, the Portland Trailblazers, and the Milwaukee Bucks. Although Orlando might seem like an unlikely destination for Dwight Howard considering the player’s drama-filled last season with the Magic, the NBA franchise would be hard pressed to overlook the potential reunion.
What could ultimately decide where Dwight Howard lands in 2016-2017 is the team’s head coach. After leaving the Orlando Magic in 2012, the big man’s production has waned considerably. Dwight has expressed becoming a focus of his team’s offense, a condition that may weigh heavily on what team Howard joins next season.
The recent and unexpected departure of head coach Scott Skiles could impact the free agency process if a successor isn’t hired by the start of the signing period, the Orlando Sentinel explained. While the Magic will have upwards of $45 million to spend in free agency, selling their vision for the team to potential players will be difficult without a head coach in place. The Magic may have to overspend on players such as Dwight Howard or Al Horford to bring top talent to Orlando for the 2016-2017 season.
Finding the right coach is important to landing free agents, Bleacher Report explained in a recent article. In this regard, Scott Skiles’ departure could be a blessing in disguise for the Orlando Magic. Skiles’ reputation of a being a tough coach that go after his players may not have helped the team land a veteran that requires a soft touch such as Dwight Howard.
Rob Hennigan, the Orlando Magic GM tasked with hiring his third coach in as many years, was specific in what he will look for in a new coach, Fansided reported. Rumors suggest that former Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel and current Orlando Magic assistant Adrian Griffin are the top two candidates for the job, coaches that may appeal to a free agent like Dwight Howard.
“We want someone who will continue to push us forward; place an emphasis on the defensive end of the floor; figure out a way to continue developing our players; and, as we continue to add pieces, assemble a highly competitive team.”
What do you think about the NBA rumors suggesting Dwight Howard could reunite with the Orlando Magic for the upcoming season? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
[Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images]