Storyline: Dwight Howard Trade

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Dwight Howard’s most recent interlude in Atlanta was supposed to not only be a homecoming of sorts, but an opportunity to resurrect a once-promising career by demonstrating a willingness to evolve his game. But the Hawks opted to pull the plug after a disappointing season, and now reports are emerging that it was in no small part due to Howard’s ongoing inability to accept a reduced role and all the interpersonal turmoil that follows him everywhere he goes. What’s worse is that his teammates had reportedly grown so weary of him that, upon news of his trade, they couldn’t wait to bid him good riddance, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN’s The Lowe Post Podcast.

“I don’t know what it is. No one has kind of gotten to the bottom of why. It can’t just be the corny jokes – and my god, does he tell the corniest jokes – but I’ve heard multiple stories of Hawks players learning about the [Dwight Howard] trade and screaming with jubilation into their phones. You ask why, and one account was that Dwight would give these speeches before the game about how everyone is playing hard, we want unity, we’re going to… and then go out and play like a blah game where he demands post touches and doesn’t rotate as hard as he could. And everyone is like, ‘why are you speaking in the locker room?’ But that’s all anecdotal. It’s just crazy how these stories come out after every stop in his career.”
2 years ago via ESPN

But they haven’t committed to staying small, and sticking Davis at center. They worry about the physical toll it would take, and fretted after Davis picked up two quick fouls jostling with Dwight Howard two weeks ago. In the days that followed, Atlanta and New Orleans had exploratory talks about possible Howard trades before the Hawks pulled everyone off the market, according to several league sources. It is unclear how interested New Orleans was, and there was not unanimous support within the team for acquiring Howard.

Fegan refused to discuss specific teams that made pitches for Howard, but sources told ESPN.com that the Bucks were one of those teams. The Bucks and Rockets did exchange some trade proposals, sources said, but Milwaukee made it clear that it wouldn’t go through with any deal for Howard unless he opted into the final season of his contract, which is scheduled to pay him $23.3 million in 2016-17.

“Many teams called expressing great interest in trading for Dwight. The obvious stumbling block to a trade was how could a team justify giving up important assets for a player who was about to become a free agent in a few short months? Not surprisingly, as the deadline approached, several teams called stating they had worked out the trade parameters with Houston for a Dwight deal but were not prepared to give up their assets unless Dwight agreed to opt into the last year of his contract and forego free agency. Dwight declined,” Howard’s agent, Dan Fegan, told ESPN.com on Thursday night.

The Houston Rockets are shopping center Dwight Howard, and the Wizards still consider him an impactful player despite a drop in production in recent years. He is a top-notch defensive presence who could flourish as Wall’s pick-and-roll partner. But the Wizards likely won’t make a move for Howard because they’re wary of his back injury history, which is problematic for a player who relies on athleticism as much as Howard does, and they would have to give up at least three players because Howard is making $22.3 million this season and teams executing trades have to match salaries (technically within 125 percent plus $100,000).

Yet 12 seasons in, the 30-year-old who has been ravaged by injuries in recent years raises too many red flags for many teams (the New York Knicks, for what it’s worth, are believed to be one of those). And while it was just weeks ago that the Rockets were believed to be boldly pursuing a James Harden, Howard, and Durant trio this summer that would certainly be worthy of title contention, the confluence of factors has clearly reached a point where Houston general manager Daryl Morey isn’t as enthusiastic about that.

So, I asked Harden, had he had a chance to discuss the Howard situation with Rockets general manager Daryl Morey? After all, Harden played a big part in recruiting Howard to Houston when he signed there three summers ago and makes up half of this 1-2 punch that had them all so optimistic about the years to come. “No,” he said regarding Morey. “I haven’t had an opportunity. After the game (in Portland on Wednesday), we kind of just got on the plane and came to Toronto.”

Despite escalating buzz with next Thursday’s trade deadline approaching, though, the Celtics are taking a cautious, measured approach. According to league sources, Boston is reluctant to mortgage its future in exchange for players who could become free agents at season’s end. The Celtics are content to move forward without making a trade, and they will be careful not to get caught up in an unnecessary bidding war. “This team is not in it for the short term,” one league source said.
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September 19, 2018 | 2:37 pm EDT Update
Butler and Thibodeau met on Tuesday in Los Angeles to discuss his situation, according to multiple sources. Over the last several weeks, Butler began to seriously contemplate his future with the Timberwolves and a potential trade request, league sources said. It was in that meeting that Butler expressed a desire to be traded, telling Thibodeau that he does not intend to sign a long-term extension with the Wolves next summer. He has provided a list of one to three teams with which he would be open to signing a long-term deal, sources said.