On Tuesday, Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated passed along comments from the eight-time All-Star selection about his "miserable" basketball mindset at the time.
"The joy was sucked out of it," Howard said.
The 31-year-old Atlanta native was limited to 41 games during the 2014-15 campaign due to lingering knee problems and played fewer than 30 minutes per game for the first time in his career.
While Howard has returned to his previously durable ways over the last two seasons, appearing in a combined 145 games with the Rockets and Atlanta Hawks, his overall impact has remained well below his peak years with the Orlando Magic, who selected him with the first overall pick in 2004.
That's due to a combination of factors. The game has changed in recent years, trending more toward big men who can stretch the floor and away from traditional post players. And the formerly dynamic weapon admitted to Jenkins he's not quite the athletic asset he was in his prime.
"I can't touch the top of the backboard, but I can damn sure touch right under the top of the backboard," Howard said. "Whatever I lost, whatever was taken from me, I want to get it back."
The Hawks traded the veteran center to Charlotte in June. It's his third team in three seasons, but this time he arrives with lesser outside expectations and a renewed outlook about what he wants from the game.
"Confidence," Howard told Sports Illustrated, "and peace."
In addition, Howard has two seasons left on his current contract, meaning how he plays for the Hornets will determine whether he lands one more lucrative long-term deal.
But he's also prepared for a future without basketball, revealing his "99-year plan" to Jenkins, which includes working on the Georgia farm he bought this summer: "I want to go out there, milk the cows, work the field."