After an abbreviated 2018-19 campaign where injuries limited him to a career-low nine games, former All-NBA center Dwight Howard will reportedly be getting another chance to be a key contributor to the Washington Wizards.
On Thursday night, ESPN’s Zach Lowe tweeted that Howard, per league sources, opted into the second year of his two-year contract with the Wizards, which is valued at $5.6 million for the 2019-20 season. This comes after a season where the 33-year-old big man averaged just 12.8 points and 9.2 rebounds before undergoing back surgery to relieve the gluteal soreness he felt in the nine games he played for the team.
As previously reported by Sky Sports, Howard was originally expected to miss two to three months after undergoing surgery and had told reporters after the operation that he was feeling a lot better. He did, however, stress that the recovery process was likely to take some time, given how rehabilitation from back surgery is “a little bit different” compared to that for other types of injuries.
“The first couple of weeks and almost like a month and a half, you’re just walking. You got to start with the core program, just Level 1, which is real slow,” Howard said. “Then you got to pass Level 1 and get to Level 2. You got to get all the way to Level 5 to be able to play.”
With Dwight Howard sidelined for most of the year and All-Star point guard John Wall’s season also ending prematurely due to a ruptured Achilles tendon, the Wizards’ 2018-19 season was an “abject failure,” according to Bleacher Report. Despite preseason expectations that suggested the team would make the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Wizards finished with a 32-50 record and, as further pointed out by the publication, might also have to deal with the possibility of Wall sitting out the entire 2019-20 season.
In Howard’s absence, the Wizards relied mostly on young center Thomas Bryant, who joined Washington in 2018 after playing sparingly for the Los Angeles Lakers in his rookie season. Per Basketball-Reference, Bryant started 53 of 72 games for the Wizards, averaging 10.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 20.8 minutes per game.
So far, Dwight Howard has had a successful NBA career since entering the league as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. An eight-time All-NBA player and three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner, Howard has career averages of 17.4 points, 12.6 rebounds, and two blocked shots per game, according to his Basketball-Reference player page. Howard has, however, played for five different teams over the past seven seasons, amid various rumors hinting at his allegedly disruptive locker room presence, as documented in 2018 by The Ringer.