Dwight Howard Reportedly Traded to Grizzlies; Wizards Get C.J. Miles in Return

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 6, 2019

Washington Wizards center Dwight Howard reacts from the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks, Sunday, April 7, 2019, at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Knicks won 113-110. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

The Washington Wizards have traded veteran center Dwight Howard to the Memphis Grizzlies, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.    

David Aldridge of The Athletic reported that the Grizzlies were sending C.J. Miles to the Wizards in the deal. Charania added the Grizzlies intend to waive Howard.

The 33-year-old made just nine appearances for the Wizards in 2018-19, averaging 12.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 0.4 blocks. A lower-body injury prevented him from making his debut for the team until early November. Less than a month later, Howard underwent surgery on his back and didn't play again for the rest of the year.

Not surprisingly, he triggered his player option for 2019-20, which will pay him a little over $5.6 million.

Howard's departure from the nation's capital still felt inevitable, and the only question was whether the Wizards would buy him out of the final year of his deal or find a trade partner. 

At the time of Howard's signing last July, ownership and the front office were trying to do anything they could—with limited salary-cap space—to improve the team's playoff odds.

Fast forward to the present, and the Wizards are coming off an 11th-place finish in the Eastern Conference. John Wall could miss all of 2019-20 after undergoing Achilles surgery in February.

As much as team owner Ted Leonsis might be against the strategy, tanking is arguably Washington's best team-building approach until it's clear what kind of player Wall will be following his Achilles injury. Because of that, the Wizards had little use for an aging center on an expiring deal who's a shadow of his old self.

Unlike other experienced centers, Howard hasn't adapted his game to fit the NBA's emphasis on spacing the floor. His seven three-point attempts in 2017-18 tied a career high.

That makes his back surgery even more concerning since he spends so much of his time on the court close to the basket.

Back trouble has been an issue for Howard for a number of years and is one reason his performance slipped so quickly following his departure from the Orlando Magic in 2012.

One also balances Howard's impact on the court with his reputation inside NBA locker rooms.

Most fans remember his infamous interview with reporters in which he denied speaking to Magic ownership about getting then-head coach Stan Van Gundy fired—moments after Van Gundy told those same reporters Howard wanted him gone.

ESPN.com's Zach Lowe reported on his podcast in September 2017 some of Howard's former teammates were "screaming with jubilation" when the team traded him to the Charlotte Hornets. According to NBA TV's Brendan Haywood, the Hornets players had a similar opinion of Howard.

As for Miles, he appeared in just 13 games for Memphis last season, averaging 9.3 points. He also played in 40 contests for the Toronto Raptors before heading to the Grizzlies at the trade deadline, offering just 5.5 points per night. 

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