Update: The Hawks officially announced the trade overnight.
The Atlanta Hawks have reportedly begun their reconstruction under the leadership of Travis Schlenk. On Tuesday evening, word broke from Marc Spears of ESPN that former All-Star center Dwight Howard is on the move via a trade to the Charlotte Hornets.
The Atlanta Hawks have agreed to trade center Dwight Howard to the Charlotte Bobcats, source tell ESPN's The Undefeated.— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) June 21, 2017
After that initial report, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical provided clarity on the return.
Sources: Charlotte is sending Miles Plumlee, Marco Belenelli and 41st pick to Atlanta for Dwight Howard and 31st pick.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 21, 2017
Howard has two years remaining on a three-year contract that pays more than $47 million in total. In exchange, the Hawks will be taking on three years of Miles Plumlee at $12.5 million annually and the final year of Marco Belinelli’s contract that will pay him north of $6.6 million for the 2017-2018 season.
Plumlee will turn 29 in September and he is a functional rotation center. With that said, his contract is not a positive asset and it will be interesting to see if Atlanta intends to hold on to the deal long-term. As for Belinelli, the 31-year-old wing provides shooting (37.7 percent for his career from three) and that could be a positive asset on an expiring contract.
Because of schematic issues and a now infamous exit interview, the notion that Howard could be moved in the offseason does not come as a pure shock. In the same breath, pulling off such a transaction before the 2017 NBA Draft opens things up in a way for Atlanta, even if it does necessarily clear the decks from a salary cap perspective.
For now, it appears that Dwight Howard is headed just a few hours up I-85 to continue his career in Charlotte and the Hawks are headed in a different direction. Stay tuned.