With Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard expected to use his player option to become a free agent this summer, rumors are swirling regarding his potential destination. While Howard was once considered the top center in the entire NBA, his play has fallen off in recent seasons. Injuries are a part of the problem, but many around the league believe that Howard’s poor attitude may play a part. Regardless, Howard is still only 30 years old, and there is a chance that his career could see a resurgence with a new team. While nothing is certain, the latest rumors believe that there is a chance that Dwight Howard could return to the team that originally drafted him, the Orlando Magic.
As ESPN reports, it was originally thought that Howard would consider returning to the Rockets, but it appears as though he no longer has a role with their organization.
“It’s expected that he will become a free agent and seek a new team. Orlando, Milwaukee, Portland and Charlotte are the favorites.”
Since his departure from the Magic in 2012, Howard has seen his numbers drop considerably. In his last season with the Magic, Howard averaged 20.6 points per game, 10.8 rebounds per game, and 2.1 blocks per game. In his most recent season with the Rockets, Howard averaged 13.7 points per game, 11.8 rebounds per game, and 1.6 blocks per game. Howard has been in the NBA since 2004, so there is a chance that his body could be breaking down. While age is certainly a possible factor in his decline, Howard’s chemistry with the rest of the Rockets’ team was not exactly stellar.
— Orlando Magic Daily (@OMagicDaily) May 20, 2016
Since the end of the 2015-2016 season, numerous reports have emerged stating that Howard’s teammates froze him out of the offense towards the end of the year. While there is no hard proof of this happening, Howard’s field-goal attempts per game dropped off at the end of the season. This helps explain his 13.7 points per game, the lowest total since his rookie season, but it does not exactly bode well for his future. If Howard wants to return to his former glory, he needs to clean up his image in the locker room.
After finishing with a record of 35-47, the Magic had another poor season. While Magic fans are probably trying to avoid thinking about last year, they may have some hope for the very near future. As the Orlando Sentinel reports, new Magic head coach Frank Vogel sees a lot of young talent on the roster.
“The young talent, I think, is a really good situation. They’re ready — ready to take that next step. I feel like they’ve gotten some of the growing pains out of their system, as you deal with in any kind of rebuild situation.”
While it is encouraging to hear Vogel’s positivity, the team still has to win games on the floor. The good news for the Magic is that Vogel is considered one of the better coaches in the NBA. While the Indiana Pacers ultimately decided not to bring him back, Vogel still had a lot of success with them over the past few years.
In addition to ESPN naming the Magic a favorite to land Howard, various NBA insiders also believe that it is a possibility, as reported by ABC News.
“Good idea, for the right price. He still helps his teams win, and he seems intent on righting wrongs. We saw Vogel build a defense in Indiana, and he certainly could do the same around Howard, protecting him in his weaknesses and maximizing his strengths.”
The main point is really Howard’s asking price. If he is looking for a five-year contract, it is unlikely that the Magic go after him. If he is willing to sign a reasonable contract that is friendly to the team, he could make sense for the Magic.
NBA rumors will continue to connect the Orlando Magic to upcoming free agent center Dwight Howard. While Howard’s best days may be behind him, he could be a valuable piece for the Magic and their attempt to become a playoff team again.
[Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images]