Washington Wizards center Dwight Howard is excited about his new opportunity in the nation’s capital and believes the team is “going to shock a lot of people.”
Howard signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the Wizards. Washington traded Marcin Gortat to the Los Angeles Clippers and was in need of a starting center.
Since requesting a trade from the Orlando Magic, Howard has played for the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Hornets. He’s been unable to stay anywhere and is reportedly a huge locker room issue.
Howard, 32, spoke about his recent travels at his introductory press conference.
“I learned Magic for eight years,” Howard said. “Went to La-La Land. Worked for a while with Rockets. Learned to fly with some Hawks. Got stung by the Hornets. And it all taught me how to be a Wizard.”
Howard was fairly productive with the Hornets in 2017-18. He averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds while shooting 55.5 percent from the field in 81 games. The eight-time All-Star thanked his new point guard, John Wall, for reaching out to him.
“I think we’re going to have a beautiful season,” Howard said. “I just think we’re going to shock a lot of people. Shout out to John for reaching out to me and asking me to join this team. No disrespect to any of the point guards I played with in my career, John is a different type of animal.”
As he was negotiating his buyout from the Brooklyn Nets, Howard was not considering signing with the Wizards, as the team didn’t really cross his mind. But when Wall messaged Howard on Instagram telling the former All-NBA center to come to Washington, Howard was all in.
“No lie, when I saw the message on Instagram, I really got so happy,” Howard told Wizards reporters at his introductory press conference. “I was like John just DM’d me, oh man this is crazy. After that, I really just started to put on my thinking cap. I just thought about all the possibilities. I was like man, this could be the best spot for me.”
At the end of the 2017-18 season, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks and Wall highlighted specific types of players they wanted to see added to the Wizards roster this summer. Most notably, the two men pointed to an athletic big.
Wall is excited to play with Howard and says he will benefit the team in a variety of ways.
“Even though he’s older, he’s still an athletic big and still has respect in this league,” Wall told Chris Miller of NBC Sports Washington. “I mean, averaging [16.6 ppg and 12.5 rpg], he’s a guy who can score in the low-post and block shots, a guy that gets a lot of rebounds and a guy that can catch lobs and do things that when teams switch against us or we’re attacking the paint, if they help for a second then we’re throwing lobs. I think that benefits us a lot.
“I think it’s an opportunity to see how it pans out, to have an athletic big and somebody who’s going to re-correct their career. I think it should be fun and exciting for us. Hopefully he comes in with a serious focus and mind-set (that) he wants to get better and help our team. We’re about to sit back and see what happens.”