Dwight Howard is no longer a member of the Atlanta Hawks and, at this point, the details of his exit (via trade) have been litigated on a number of levels. However, the NBA at-large continues to be perplexed, captivated and befuddled by Howard and fuel was added to the fire when the Hawks elected to make what many perceive to be a sub-optimal trade in taking back Miles Plumlee’s long-term contract.
While the start of Atlanta’s training camp (rightly) dominated coverage early this week, ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Kevin Arnovitz joined forces on an episode of The Lowe Post podcast. In the midst of their lengthy discussion about the NBA and, specifically, the Charlotte Hornets, the duo arrived at the topic of Howard and his now infamous exits from a number of franchises.
First, Arnovitz referenced the “Dwight Factor” with this explanation.
“There's the Dwight factor, which is he makes everybody miserable. We can read about the reinventions a million times but there is just no empirical evidence that anyone wants to play with this person and that any coach cares to have him around.”
Then, Lowe revealed that multiple members of the Hawks produced “screaming with jubilation” following word of the trade that sent the future Hall of Fame center to Charlotte.
“I don't know what it is.... No one has kind of gotten to the bottom of why... It can't just be the corny jokes (and, my god, does he tell the corniest jokes)... but I've heard multiple stories of Hawks players learning about the trade and screaming with jubilation into their phones.”
“You ask why and, one account was that Dwight would give these speeches before the game about how everyone is playing hard, we want unity, we're going to... and then go out and play like a "blah" game where he demands post touches and doesn't rotate as hard as he could. And everyone is like, "why are you speaking in the locker room?" but that's all anecdotal. It's just crazy how these stories come out after every stop in his career.”
From there, there was a reference to the locker room culture being pro-Dennis Schröder when compared to Howard and further illustration on how often Howard wanted the ball and was unhappy in his role. Arnovitz then commented on Howard’s public persona versus the reality of what is felt within the locker room dynamic:
"It's funny, because I think everyone has the impression that it's the goofiness and the fart jokes and everything else but, actually, no... He's a downer the minute he perceives that he's not fulfilling his role in the offense."
The full discussion is absolutely worth a listen for full context but Lowe and Arnovitz have long served as two of the most plugged-in voices when it comes to evaluating the Hawks on a national level. Included is more commentary on Howard's comments after the season about how he fell off in terms of usage in the second half and how his perception wasn't backed up by statistical evidence before he was "unusable" in the playoffs.
In short, things did not go well and, now, we have more reported specifics from (very) credible sources. Stay tuned.