The Atlanta Hawks have a busy summer ahead of them as they try to improve a club that sank to 43 wins an exit in the first round of the 2017 Playoffs. Among the many question marks is what to do exactly with center Dwight Howard.
Howard was the key offseason addition for the Hawks last summer but it was a rocky transition. Howard had a nice season from a statistical standpoint but his impact on the court was often detrimental, especially on the offensive end. That led to many instances where he was left on the bench watching during fourth quarters.
During exit interviews last Saturday, Howard let it be known that he wasn’t happy with the benching and indicated that he came to Atlanta to have an impact and that he couldn’t do that from the bench. It was the first public complaint from Howard since joining the Hawks but it is something we have seen before from him.
It is unlikely that Howard’s role will be changing anytime soon in Atlanta. He was essentially the same player this season as he was during his last season with the Houston Rockets and is a long way removed from his glory days in Orlando. But moving on from him certainly won’t be easy and may not be possible at all as ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz attests.
A poll of 8 NBA front office execs has yielded that -- best case -- the @ATLHawks could get a 2nd-rounder and cap relief for Dwight Howard.— Kevin Arnovitz (@kevinarnovitz) May 2, 2017
Of course this wouldn’t be the first time that NBA front office execs were skeptical of Howard. Anonymous team execs told Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck before last offseason that Howard might have to settle for a short deal worth between $10-15 million annually. Of course he did much better than that inking a 3-year deal with Atlanta worth $70.5 million.
Howard is still under contract for two more seasons and is owed $46 million. Hawks ownership has made it clear that they don’t intend to rebuild and possibly wouldn’t even entertain the idea of moving on.
Atlanta is moving in to an offseason with limited options and moving off some of their key players probably isn’t one of them.