Dwight Howard decided to opt out of his contract with the Houston Rockets to test free agency, and it didn't take long for him to find a new team.
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Hawks, Howard Reportedly Agree to Deal
Friday, July 1
Shams Charania of The Vertical reported that Howard has agreed to a three-year, $70.5 million contract with the Atlanta Hawks.
Earlier on Friday, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical cited sources when reporting that the Hawks and Howard "made a strong connection."
On June 28, ESPN's Marc Stein and Chris Broussard reported that the two sides would meet. Stein reported earlier in the day that if the Hawks were "unable to thrust themselves into the [Kevin] Durant bidding," the franchise was weighing a potential pursuit of Howard to play alongside Al Horford.
Trail Blazers Reportedly Interested in Howard
Friday, July 1
Jason Quick of CSNNW.com, citing a "person with knowledge of the Blazers' plans," reported that Portland intends to pursue both Howard and Chandler Parsons. Zach Lowe of ESPN.com observed it would be "tough" in relation to the salary cap, noting the team would "have to renounce [Moe] Harkless" and potentially dump salary elsewhere.
On Thursday, Lowe first reported that the Blazers would "absolutely look at Howard, per several league sources."
Howard Reportedly Set to Meet with Celtics
Tuesday, June 28
Howard reportedly has a meeting lined up with the Boston Celtics, according to Stein and Broussard.
Stein and Broussard added Howard is expected to meet with up to five teams.
Howard Reportedly Has Knicks on Shortlist
Wednesday, June 22
Ian Begley of ESPN.com reported the New York Knicks "are one of several teams [Howard] would consider in free agency," citing league sources.
"Howard told friends earlier in the season that he was interested in playing for the Knicks; that interest remains as Howard approaches free agency," Begley added.
Rockets Were Open to Retaining Howard
Wednesday, June 22
ESPN.com's Calvin Watkins, citing a source, reported on June 22 the Rockets "tried to convince [Howard] to remain with the team." Watkins added:
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey spoke with Howard's agent Perry Rogers and team CEO Tad Brown talked to Howard himself expressing his support as well. The team values Howard's defensive abilities and the potential of what he can do on the offensive end in a new scheme under just hired coach Mike D'Antoni as the reasoning for retaining him.
"He [D'Antoni] would welcome him [Howard] back. We would welcome him back," Rockets general manager Daryl Morey told SiriusXM Bleacher Report Radio's Howard Beck and Noah Coslov on June 5 when asked about the situation.
Howard famously clashed with Mike D'Antoni during his one-year stint with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2012-13. The Rockets hired D'Antoni as their new head coach in May—a move seen as confirmation Howard would be headed elsewhere.
Howard Reportedly Opts Out of Rockets Deal
Tuesday, June 21
Howard has reportedly declined his $23.2 million option for the upcoming season and will become a free agent, according to Charania.
Howard's Game Steadily Declined During Houston Tenure
Howard, 30, spent three up-and-down seasons as James Harden's co-star in Houston. His points per game and usage dipped every season, including a 2015-16 campaign that saw him assume a tertiary offensive role. He averaged 13.7 points per game, his worst since his rookie season, despite shooting a career-high 62 percent from the floor.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, Howard's usage rate fell nearly 5 percent from 23.3 in 2014-15 to 18.4—another career low since his rookie year. In a wide-ranging interview with Jackie MacMullan of ESPN.com, Howard spoke of becoming disillusioned by what he perceived to be a series of broken promises:
I felt like my role was being reduced. I went to [Rockets general manager] Daryl [Morey] and said, 'I want to be more involved.' Daryl said, 'No, we don't want you to be.' My response was, 'Why not? Why am I here?' It was shocking to me that it came from him instead of our coach. So I said to him, 'No disrespect to what you do, but you've never played the game. I've been in this game a long time. I know what it takes to be effective.'
Howard will look to reestablish himself as an NBA superstar who is capable of being a key component of a contender.
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