2018 Free Agency Preview: Dwight Howard

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Okay. Let’s get one thing out of the way. Dwight Howard is technically not a Free Agent in that he is still owed $23.8M on his expiring contract with the Brooklyn Nets. However, recent reports have surfaced that the big man has entered in talks about a possible buy-out. Once this happens, Howard will hit the market as an unrestricted free agent and can sign with any team.

Career up to now:

 Once upon a time, there was no question that the 8-time all-star Dwight Howard was a true Superstar. The Howard of the Magic years was someone who at one point, was the unquestioned best center in the NBA. He has won numerous awards and accolades in his fantastic career, including 3 Defensive Player of the Year awards and 8 All-NBA awards. Pretty much the only thing he has not done on the court is win an NBA Championship.

Fit with the Milwaukee Bucks:

Howard has the most rebounds and blocks among all active NBA players. Interestingly, these are two areas which the Bucks need a lot of help on, coming into the season. The fit, however isn’t perfect so the Bucks would need to do their research on the benefits and demerits of adding Howard.

Pros:

Howard averaged 16.6 pts, 12.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game last season, representing his best stat line since he played in Los Angeles during the 2012-2013 season. Getting a monster rebounder, shot-blocker, and potential pick-n-roll lob target could potentially elevate the Bucks into a top 2 or 3 team in the East. Getting that kind of player for a measly $8.6M/year Mid-level contract would be a steal.

If Howard can commit to a play a role similar to Deandre Jordan and Clint Capela, the Bucks can catapult right around the top of the NBA totem. Even an offensive juggernaut like the Golden State Warriors will find scoring against defensive unit composed of Bledsoe, Brogdon, Kmidd, Giannis and Howard to be a daunting task.

Cons:

Howard has a reputation of a diva who wants a team to revolve around him. He had clashed with fellow stars in Kobe Bryant and James Harden in previous stops when forced to share the limelight. In a Giannis-centric team, adding a locker room wild card could disrupt a team’s upward momentum.

The fit on the floor with Giannis isn’t perfect. Dwight Howard does not space the floor and could clog the paint in much the same way that Henson does. Howard also craves post-up touches and could go back to his pouting ways if his role is reduced to lobs and offensive put-backs.

Howard was also part of the Atlanta team that Coach Bud coached in 2016-2017 season. The fact that Coach Bud signed off on trading Howard at the end of a successful statistical season does not bode well about their possible reunion. Unless, of course, he was only traded in order to hasten Atlanta’s slump in a tanking year.

The drama that comes with a Howard-signing might also be an easy way to sour the Bucks’ resident stars on their roster-management. Saying that signing Howard comes with a risk, would be a big understatement.

Conclusion:

The Bucks shored up its shooting deficiencies with their recent draft pick and the hiring of a Spurs-model coach. In my mind, the benefit of adding a star of Howard’s caliber without needing to subtract any other asset, outweighs any potential locker issues that his arrival might bring.

A 2-yr contract at the MLE, with the second year being a team option would be the best-case scenario for the Bucks.

Winning will solve many issues. If the Bucks want to win during Giannis’s time, Horst will have to pull out all stops to convince Dwight Howard to join their squad.

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