Former All-Star center Dwight Howard said he's considering retirement from the NBA, because he doesn't want to play a small bench role.
The three-time Defensive Player of the Year Award winner discussed his free-agent outlook during an appearance Thursday on Showtime's All The Smoke (7:30 mark of video).
"I wanna play, but at the same there's like no teams that really wanna allow me to play," Howard said. "That's how I've been feeling from the last situation with the Lakers. I felt like I did enough to help them win a championship to really deserve a spot on the team and a chance to start and get big minutes, and it didn't happen. So after that I was like, 'Man, I don't wanna have to bust my ass for another whole summer, train three-a-days, go on a crazy diet, do all this s--t and then get back to a team and sit on the bench or not get to really help somebody win.' ... And it's been like, 'Damn, do I wanna just call it quits and do some other stuff or go back at it and show people I still got it.'"
Howard hasn't played over 20 minutes per game while playing a full season since the 2017-18 campaign as a member of the Charlotte Hornets.
A significant reason for that declining involvement is the evolving nature of the NBA to embrace more versatile frontcourt players. The number of old-school, paint-defending centers playing prominent roles continues to decline with each passing year.
That's left the longtime Orlando Magic franchise cornerstone, who's attempted just 103 threes across 18 seasons, to fight for reserve minutes when teams are playing a more traditional lineup.
Howard has remained effective in the limited role, averaging 7.2 points and 7.4 rebounds while shooting 64.2 percent from the field across 207 appearances (17.9 minutes per game) since the start of the 2018-19 season.
At the end of 2021-22, the 36-year-old Atlanta native said he hoped to play a few more seasons, saying he'd like to wrap up his career with the Lakers.
"Why do I want to leave? I want to be cemented somewhere. I love being here. I love the fans. I have a good time," Howard told reporters in April. "I really want an opportunity where I can really go out with a bang. I've only got a couple years left, so I want an opportunity where I can go out and show my skills and talent and do it in the right way, but also win. I feel like I deserve it."
Now, after a couple months on the free-agent market, the 6'10'' center sounds prepared to walk away from basketball if the right opportunity doesn't arise.
It wouldn't be a surprise if teams start calling Howard once injuries begin to pile up after the regular season tips off in a couple weeks, though.