NBA free agency: Dwight Howard to sign two-year, $11M deal with Wizards after buyout from Nets, report says
It looks like the Wizards have found their replacement for Marcin Gortat in the middle
Dwight Howard put up better statistics than he has in a while last season, but the Charlotte Hornets decided to cut bait with him this offseason anyway, trading him to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Timofey Mozgov and a second-round draft pick, which turned out to be Kentucky's Hamadou Diallo. The Nets clearly had no interest in keeping Howard, and it was quickly reported that they would reach a buyout agreement with the 32-year-old center.
Reports initially surfaced about the 14-year vet signing a one-year deal with the Washington Wizards after being bought out by the Nets, but on Friday ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Howard will actually sign a two-year, $11 million deal in Washington.
The two-year deal is an interesting move by Washington. They're financially committed to the core of John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter for the foreseeable future, so they're clearly in win-now mode. Keeping Howard for two years (assuming he opts into his player option next summer) makes him a crucial part of a Wizards team hoping to make some noise in a suddenly wide-open Eastern Conference, now that LeBron James has gone West to the Lakers.
The Wizards have a hole to fill at starting center since they. Last season with the Hornets, Howard posted his highest scoring average since 2013-14 (16.6 points per game) while pulling down 12.5 boards and blocking 1.6 shots per night. The eight-time All-Star is still effective in bursts, but his defensive commitment has waned over the years, and there were reports that he disrupted the locker room in Charlotte.
As has been the case at many of his recent stops, Howard will be asked to protect the rim, rebound and finish lobs. Problems have arisen in the past when Howard has demanded more post touches. He was actually pretty good last season in that department, averaging 0.56 points per post-up, according to NBA.com stats, but the problem was the frequency. Only LaMarcus Aldridge, Joel Embiid, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph averaged more post-ups per game than Howard. And while he was marginally effective, modern defenses will watch Howard operate in the post all day if it means preventing open 3-pointers and transition baskets.
The Wizards have reportedly had some inner turmoil in recent years with John Wall, Bradley Beal and the recently departed Gortat, so it will be interesting to see how Howard's strong personality affects the dynamic.
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