Once the cornerstone of the Orlando Magic, Dwight Howard has become a literal journeyman, having played for four teams in the past six seasons — the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, and Charlotte Hornets. Now, it would seem that he’s headed to a fifth team in seven seasons, and his sixth team overall, as reports suggest that the Hornets have agreed to send the well-traveled big man to the Brooklyn Nets, in exchange for Timofey Mozgov, two second-round picks, and cash.
News of the forthcoming Dwight Howard trade was first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who wrote that the Hornets were “determined” to free up some salary cap space and get rid of Howard, who is due to earn $23.8 million in 2018-19, the final year of his contract. Aside from veteran center Mozgov, who has two years and $32.7 million remaining on the contract he originally signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2016, the Hornets will be receiving the Nets’ No. 45 pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft and their 2021 second round pick, according to league sources familiar with the transaction.
As further noted by Wojnarowski, the Dwight Howard/Timofey Mozgov trade won’t take effect just yet, due to the trade moratorium that remains in place until July 6.
According to CBS Sports, the trade continues a “fall from grace” for the 32-year-old Howard, who was once an MVP candidate while playing for the Orlando Magic but has since become “nothing more than just a solid big man” who has now been traded twice in two years. Despite that noticeable decline in production in recent years, the publication stressed that the upcoming trade is more about helping the Charlotte Hornets potentially avoid the luxury tax, as Howard’s exit leaves the team with only a slim chance of making the playoffs.
Other reports, however, suggest there might be more to Dwight Howard’s departure than mere salary cap gymnastics. Considering the numerous accusations through the years of Howard being a disruptive force in NBA locker rooms, Uproxx cited a statement from former NBA player Brendan Haywood, who alleged that Howard’s teammates were “sick and tired of his act” and are glad to see him getting shipped off to yet another team.
An eight-time All-Star and All-NBA player and a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Dwight Howard had his best statistical season since 2014-15 during his one year with the Hornets, averaging 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 1.6 blocked shots in 2017-18, according to his Basketball-Reference player page. Prior to that, his best season since leaving the Magic came in 2013-14, when he was named second-team All-NBA and played in his last All-Star Game thus far.
The 31-year-old Mozgov has also been well-traveled in his NBA career, having played for five teams in seven seasons. While he hasn’t come close to putting up similar numbers to Howard, the Russian center played for the 2015-16 NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers before signing the aforementioned four-year deal with the Lakers. He and point guard D’Angelo Russell were then traded to the Nets for Brook Lopez and the rights to the draft pick that became Kyle Kuzma in the 2017 offseason, with Mozgov averaging just 4.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in a reserve role for Brooklyn.