The NBA rumors surrounding Dwight Howard have pointed to a number of potential destinations — from a return to the Orlando Magic to a move to Chicago — but new reports suggest that the big man may end up staying with the Houston Rockets after all.
As he nears free agency, the All-Star center seemed to be a hot ticket. Though his athleticism has waned a bit as he was hit with a number of injuries, Howard is still an effective scorer and was reportedly coveted by close to 10 teams with varying levels of interest.
But now it appears he may not go anywhere at all. Though Howard clashed with coach Mike D’Antoni during his tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers, there are signs that the bad blood may be in the past now that D’Antoni has taken over the helm in Houston. This week, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey told SiriusXM Bleacher Report Radio’s Howard Beck and Noah Coslov that the team — and Mike D’Antoni — would welcome Howard back.
There could be more work to do in repairing the relationship between Howard and the franchise, Bleacher Report noted. Howard was open about his discontent with how Houston utilized him, telling Jackie MacMullan of ESPN that he felt betrayed by Morey.
“I felt like my role was being reduced. I went to [Rockets general manager] Daryl [Morey] and said, ‘I want to be more involved.’ Daryl said, ‘No, we don’t want you to be.’ My response was, ‘Why not? Why am I here?’ It was shocking to me that it came from him instead of our coach. So I said to him, ‘No disrespect to what you do, but you’ve never played the game. I’ve been in this game a long time. I know what it takes to be effective.'”
Howard may be most likely to return to the Houston Rockets if his market isn’t as strong as expected. There are reports that some team executives are balking at Howard’s asking price, which is reportedly in the neighborhood of $30 million.
If Dwight Howard doesn’t stay in Houston, he may have a number of options at hand. Many believe the Orlando Magic’s hiring of Frank Vogel as head coach could lay the groundwork for a return to the franchise that drafted Howard.
Orlando is a team brimming with young talent, but previous coaches Jacques Vaughn and Scott Skiles failed to develop them into a playoff team. With the defensive-minded Vogel at the helm, that could change. He was seen as key to developing Paul, Stephenson, and Roy Hibbert with the Indiana Pacers, and with Howard he would have a strong veteran presence to grow Orlando’s blooming players into NBA stars.
ESPN Insider David Thorpe told ABC Sports the Orlando Magic would welcome Howard back, as long as they wouldn’t be forced to pay too much.
“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.”
If the NBA rumors that Dwight Howard will remain with the Houston Rockets end up being true, it could be a quick learning curve for Howard. Bleacher Report noted that he would likely fill the same role as he did before D’Antoni’s tenure, playing the roll man in the pick-and-roll and not being called on to run the floor as D’Antoni prefers in his fast-paced sets.
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