The NBA rumors surrounding Dwight Howard may have taken an unexpected but familiar turn, with some league insiders thinking the Orlando Magic’s hiring of Frank Vogel as their next head coach could lead to a return of their former star player.
Howard is likely to become a highly-coveted free agent this summer, and even before Magic coach Scott Skiles unexpectedly resigned, there were many who believed a return to Orlando could be in the cards for the big man. Those rumors are now ramping up with the defensive-minded Vogel taking over.
ESPN Insider David Thorpe told ABC Sports that he believes Dwight Howard could be a good fit for the Orlando Magic — if the price is right.
“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.”
Whether the NBA rumors regarding Dwight Howard are true or not, the future looks bright for the Magic behind Frank Vogel. After faltering the last few seasons under Jacques Vaughn and Skiles, the Magic appear to finally have a coach that can make the most out of the young talent that’s been added to the roster through a series of high draft picks.
The team had a solid start to the last year, with a 19-13 record at one point and a spot in the playoff picture until roughly mid-season. But the second half of the year was not as kind to the Magic, who finished with only 35 wins. This led to the unexpected resignation from Scott Skiles and the emergence of Frank Vogel, who Orlando general manager Rob Hennigan said is the perfect fit to develop the team’s young talent.
Hennigan told ESPN.com as much.
“Sort of the fulcrum of what we’re looking for is someone who puts an emphasis on the defensive end of the floor, someone who puts an emphasis on player development and also someone who puts an emphasis on building lasting connections with the players on our roster.”
That emphasis on defense could leave an opening for Dwight Howard to return, some insider have noted. Vogel earned a reputation in Indiana as a defensive-minded coach, and he has already spoken about improving Orlando’s defense.
“You want to make them enjoy [defense], enjoy the hard work and the reward in getting stop after stop after stop when your shots aren’t falling,” Vogel told NBA.com Magic reporter John Denton. “We’ll do that [in Orlando] because I have confidence that this team has great athleticism and good speed, and I believe that I can mold them into one of the better defensive units in the league.”
Dwight Howard on his “disinterest” this season in Houston: “I felt like my role was being reduced” https://t.co/8neC8BlifT— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) May 19, 2016
Vogel has already said the Magic remind him much of his Pacers teams. When he took over in Indiana, Paul George, Lance Stephenson, and Roy Hibbert had not yet blossomed into the star players they would become under Vogel’s mentorship, and likewise the Magic have potential stars in Aaron Gordon, Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton, and Mario Hezonja.
There are plenty of other NBA rumors surrounding Dwight Howard, with as many as 10 teams reportedly showing interest. The question could be his price, however. Howard’s athleticism has diminished through a series of injuries, and his overall game failed to develop with the Houston Rockets despite the coaching of two of the best low post men in league history — Hakeem Olajuwon and Kevin McHale. That means Howard may need to be a bit flexible with his contract this time around.
[Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images]