Dwight Howard Won’t Return; Focus Moves To Player Option

Dwight Howard played just nine games in his first season with the Wizards, and the team would probably prefer that there won’t be a second one, writes Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington.

The two-year, $11MM contract Howard signed last summer includes a $5.6MM player option for next season. It appears Washington would rather have the cap flexibility than another year of Howard, especially with the team already well stocked at center.

Thomas Bryant has stepped in as the starter and has enjoyed a breakthrough season. Bobby Portis, who was acquired in a deal with the Bulls last month, has been an effective backup in smaller lineups. They will be restricted free agents this summer and the Wizards would like to re-sign both of them. Washington will also be paying $15.45MM to Ian Mahinmi, who will be entering the final year of his four-year, $64MM contract.

The idea of Howard opting out and testing the free agent market at age 33 after an injury-plagued season is far from a sure thing. He has moved around the league since being traded out of Orlando in 2012 and has changed teams in each of the past three offseasons.

Howard’s physical problems began in November, leading to surgery on his back, then he suffered a hamstring injury while trying to return. He rejoined the team in for non-contact drills in late February, but never seemed close to being cleared for game action.

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