Dwight Howard Vents About Benching vs. Wizards

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2017

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 28:  Dwight Howard #8 of the Atlanta Hawks boxes out Marcin Gortat #13 of the Washington Wizards during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs on April 28, 2017 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard was not pleased with his reduced minutes at the end of the regular season and in the playoffs, according to Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"It was very difficult," Howard said Saturday. "I want to play. I want to be out on the floor. I want to make a difference. I want to make an impact, and I can't do that on the bench."

As Schultz noted, Howard, 31, played in just 16 of 72 fourth-quarter minutes against the Washington Wizards in the first round of the playoffs and sat for the entire fourth quarter of two postseason games. He played 30 or more minutes just once in the series, averaging 26.2 minutes per game after he'd played 29.7 minutes per contest during the regular season.

He scored 8.0 points and pulled down 10.7 rebounds per game in the playoffs. But he was less than thrilled with how the series played out.

"Howard is not happy," Schultz wrote. "The day after the Hawks were drop-kicked into the offseason by Washington, he used the word 'pissed' three times to describe his feelings about the way both his and the team's season ended."

Schultz added that "[Howard] denied suggestions that matchups should have anything to do with his reduced time. He denied season-long suspicions that he struggles in the Hawks' ball-movement, pick-and-roll offense. Physically, he said he feels 'amazing.' Mentally, that's another story."

Howard may deny it, but it's pretty clear he isn't a great fit in Mike Budenholzer's system. And while he remains an excellent rebounder, he's no longer the dominant post scorer or defensive presence he was as a younger player.

The Hawks will need to make it work, however, since they owe Howard $47.3 million over the next two seasons—a contract that wouldn't be easy to trade even if Atlanta wanted to move on from the veteran center. That means the Hawks will need to tweak their system to better fit Howard's abilities, Howard will have to accept a more limited role than he's accustomed to or the two sides will be at odds come the 2017-18 season.

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