He’s motivated, too. It has been 11 years, if you can believe it, since the Howard-led Magic advanced to the NBA Finals, getting drubbed by the Lakers in five games. Back then, a 23-year old Howard believed that trip would be the first of many. As L.A. celebrated, Howard and Jameer Nelson remained on the Magic bench, soaking it in, fueling up for another title run that never came. It’s an experience Howard says he thinks about every day. “It never leaves my mind,” Howard said. “I had a chance to get there once. I always promised myself, if I had a chance to get back there, I would give my teammates everything that I’ve got.” And he has. Howard has found a role that suits him, and a locker room with the right leaders to handle any chemistry issues that come up. “What I have enjoyed the most is to watch his reputation be rehabilitated a bit,” Van Gundy said. “He’s a good guy. He did a fantastic job in Orlando. It’s been rough for him since then. To see him bounce back, to be an unselfish team guy trying to win games is great to see.”
February 28, 2021 | 4:16 pm EST Update
The Chicago Sun-Times reported this month that several teams were intrigued with the idea of Thaddeus Young bolstering their bench, as well as providing a versatile frontcourt option to close games. He would be an instant boost for teams going for that late-season push, such as the Heat or Knicks.