Dwight Howard

Billy King Looks Back On Tenure With Nets

Former Nets GM Billy King, who is widely blamed for turning the organization into a perennial loser with no lottery picks, tells his side of the story in an interview with The Glue Guys, a Nets-themed podcast.

King touches on several controversial issues in the 45-minute session, including an effort to acquire Chris Paul, the failure to get Dwight Howard when he wanted to join the Nets and the ill-fated trade that sent three unprotected first-rounders to Boston for a package centered around veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

The highlights:

  • King tried to get Paul from New Orleans before dealing with Utah for Deron Williams. King believed he was making progress, but the deal went cold after Jeff Bowers was replaced as GM by Dell Demps. “At that time, I don’t think Dell wanted his first thing to be trading Chris Paul,” King said.
  • The Nets believed they were close to acquiring Howard from Orlando just before the 2012 trade deadline. “We went to bed as a staff — we left the office pretty late — we went to bed pretty much knowing that tomorrow we’re going to get Dwight,” King said. Magic GM Otis Smith had planned to finalize the deal the next morning, but King woke up to a text saying that Howard had elected to opt in for the following season. King reached out to Howard’s agent, who responded, “I don’t think he did,” and even Smith hadn’t heard the news when King called him. However, Smith returned the call an hour later and confirmed the news.
  • The Nets responded by trading their 2012 first-round pick to Portland in exchange for Gerald Wallace in an attempt to appease Williams and discourage him from opting out over the summer. The Blazers used that pick to draft Damian Lillard.
  • King reached out to the Celtics in 2013 because he thought he had a talented nucleus that needed veteran leadership and was interested in acquiring Pierce. Negotiations led to Garnett and Jason Terry being included and the package of picks going to Boston.
  • King made an offer to Pierce in the summer of 2014, but he got a better deal from Washington and the Nets decided not to match it. “Once that decision was made, I think it changed our thought process,” King said. “I think some of the players even thought, ‘What’s going on here? We were committed and now we’re not.” King added that he wouldn’t have made the deal with Boston if he knew he couldn’t keep Pierce longer than one season.

Dwight Howard Considered Retirement In 2015

Dwight Howard considered retirement following his disappointing 2014/15 campaign, Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated passes along in a full-length piece that’s worth a read. Injuries certainly played a role in Howard evaluating that option, as he missed 41 games because of knee issues in 2014/15. Other factors, including his fit on the Rockets and his mindset toward the game of basketball, also were major factors.

“The joy was sucked out of it,” Howard said about his mindset toward the game that season.

The former No. 1 overall pick signed a four-year deal with Houston during the summer of 2013 and the team expected him to mesh well with rising star James Harden. The Harden-Howard pairing never came together as the franchise had hoped for, though the team attempted to create chemistry between the two by setting up a meeting during the 2014/15 season. Harden reportedly explained to Howard that he wanted the big man to set stronger screens and be a tougher rim protector, and Howard reportedly didn’t provide much of a response. One team source tells Jenkins that the gathering felt more like an intervention than a typical NBA player meeting.

Howard acknowledges that his communication skills are partially to blame for him not working in Houston and previously in Los Angeles.

“When I don’t like what’s going on, I tend to shut down, put my headphones on and ignore everything. I don’t talk about things. That happened to me in L.A. It happened to me again in Houston. I should have communicated better,” Howard said.

The big man was traded to the Hornets this offseason just one season into a three-year contract with the Hawks. Charlotte will be the center’s fourth team since he forced a trade from the Magic back in 2012.

Southeast Notes: Howard, Richardson, Oubre, Spoelstra

Dwight Howard will suit up for his fifth team in seven seasons as he prepares for a new start with the Hornets. The 31-year-old has been an effective player, when healthy, but has regressed from the player that was an MVP candidate in Orlando.

Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes Howard views his opportunity with the Hornets as a chance to reestablish himself. Under the guidance of his former and current coach Steve Clifford, Howard feels he can prove doubters wrong and prove to himself he can still be a productive player.

“This opportunity for myself to really get back everything that I would say has been taken away. I’m not too much worried about the naysayers, the rankings and stuff, but just the hearts of the people,” Howard said. “I’m in a much better place mentally, physically and spiritually than I have been in a couple of years.

Despite the downward trend in recent years, Howard posted 13.5 PPG and 12.7 RPG while scoring from the floor at a 63% clip last season in Atlanta. Charlotte has a need for defense and that is one part of Howard’s game that remains a threat.

Read more news around the Southeast Division below:
  • In a separate column, Bonnell writes that the Hornets did not have much financial flexibility to acquire a premier backup point guard after acquiring Howard. That led to the signings of Michael Carter-Williams and Julyan Stone; one player who has not done much since winning Rookie of the Year and the other hasn’t played in the NBA since 2014.
  • In his latest Ask Ira column, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes that Josh Richardsons four-year, $42MM contract extension is a worthwhile investment for the Heat. While he may not consistently crack the starting lineup, Richardson will be a key part of the team’s core going forward, Winderman adds.
  • Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni shared the honors of the new Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award, NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner writes.
  • Chase Hughes of CSN Mid Atlantic writes that Kelly Oubre, after a productive sophomore season in Washington, will be one of the team’s most vital players. Hughes notes that Oubre is the “most athletic player and best wing defender” on the Wizards‘ bench and will need to be consistent in that role to help the team.

Southeast Notes: Beal, Monk, Collins

A number of developments in Bradley Beal‘s game could help the Wizards two-guard earn his first career All-Star berth, Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic writes. Last year, for instance, the guard managed to stay healthy after missing considerable time the previous two seasons and looked to gain confidence attacking the basket as a result.

In 2017/18, with last year to reflect back on, Beal could ride that confidence to a new level. Another component that contributed to Beal’s success last season was his improved ball handling. If that continues, the swingman will be able to slash more competently and maybe even drive up his free-throw attempts as Wizards teammate John Wall has done.

Beal watched his average jump from 17.4 points per game to 23.1 last year and there’s no reason to believe that he can’t continue to thrive heading forward. Still just 24 years old, Beal represents a major part of the core that Wizards owner Ted Leonsis is so eager to keep together.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The ankle injury that kept Hornets rookie Malik Monk out of summer league is still “significant” and could even limit his availability at the start of the season, Dane Carbaugh of NBC Sports writes. In the article, Carbaugh cites two Steve Clifford quotes that Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reported via Twitter. Monk, who was initially said to be out 2-4 weeks, is still regaining his conditioning and recently struggled with a relatively lightweight optional workout.
  • After ten consecutive playoff appearances, the Hawks have handed the reins of the team over to their young players, Shaun Powell of NBA.com writes. With little established competition on the team’s depth chart, rookie John Collins could find a way to produce in Year 1.
  • The Hornets have every intention of keeping Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the starting lineup, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. The only tweak to Steve Clifford‘s starting five will be the addition of Dwight Howard in place of Cody Zeller.

 

Hornets Notes: Howard, Monk, Zeller

The Hornets added a pair of players who will factor into their core rotation this season and with change comes curiosity. Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer recently answered a handful of fan questions in a mailbag article, suggesting that he doesn’t anticipate seeing Malik Monk in the starting lineup barring a significant injury ahead of him.

Monk is an undersized shooting guard who will help shoulder some of the offensive load but his diminutive stature begets defensive shortcomings that may be compounded by the fact that any Monk promotion into the starting lineup would force somebody like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to the bench.

Bonnell also weighs in on another reader’s suggestion that Dwight Howard could be used off the bench. Despite Cody Zeller‘s strong performance at the five, Bonnell says that it’s unlikely Howard would come off the bench. Howard is familiar with being a starter (he’s only come off the bench once in his career) and will earn $23MM this season.

There’s more out of Charlotte:

  • In the same Q&A article, the Bonnell writes that the Hornets can only expect so much improvement in their three-point shooting. While the addition of Monk will help and veterans like Marvin Williams and Nicolas Batum should bounce back slightly, there’s only so much fans can expect when the club’s core features Howard and Kidd-Gilchrist.
  • There’s no inclination that he would sell the franchise any time soon, but Michael Jordan‘s investment in the Charlotte Hornets has been a lucrative one thus far, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. The agreed-upon value of the franchise when Jordan bought out founding owner Robert Johnson was said to be $287MM. These days, given the Clippers‘ $2 billion sale in 2014 and the Rockets‘ sale for $2.2 billion this year, the Hornets ought to be worth at least $1 billion.
  • While it’s been rather easy to overlook Zeller given the fact that players drafted after him – like Giannis Antetokounmpo, C.J. McCollum and Rudy Gobert – have blossomed into stars, the sharp-shooting big man has been one of the game’s most efficient centers, Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype writes. Zeller also provides intangible contributions that make life easier for his teammates.

Southeast Rumors: Haslem, Magette, Hornets

Heat forward Udonis Haslem remains hopeful that Dwyane Wade will return to Miami so that they can finish out their careers together, Tom D’Angelo of the Palm Beach Post reports. Haslem, 37, re-signed with the Heat in July on a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal. He previously expressed his desire to reunite with Wade and reiterated those feelings to D’Angelo. “We talked about finishing our careers together,” Haslem said. “We really want it to be the case. Plans change. So if it doesn’t happen it doesn’t put any strain on our relationship but it’s still a goal of mine. Hopefully we can end it that way.” That won’t happen unless Wade eventually reaches a buyout agreement with the Bulls. Wade opted in for the upcoming season in June, unwilling to leave $23.8MM on the table even though Chicago is in a rebuild mode after trading away Jimmy Butler.

In other news regarding the Southeast Division:

  • Josh Magette is hopeful he can make some kind of impact with the Hawks even though his two-way contract limits him to a maximum of 45 days with the parent team, he told David Yapokowitz of Basketball Insiders. Magette is the No. 4 point guard on the roster behind Dennis Schroder, Malcolm Delaney and Quinn Cook and will spend the majority of the season with the G-League’s Erie BayHawks. “I’m someone who controls the tempo, makes everyone around them better, makes the right play, plays with a high IQ,” Magette said to Yapkowtiz. “I’m just doing little things.” Magette was the Hawks’ final roster cut last fall and also played with their summer-league team in Las Vegas. He led the G League in assists last season (9.3 APG) as a member of the Los Angeles D-Fenders.
  • The Hornets addressed a major need by drafting shooting guard Malik Monk but took a major gamble by acquiring center Dwight Howard, as Shaun Powell of NBA.com notes in his offseason outlook. Monk’s explosive scoring ability with Kentucky should translate to the NBA level, giving Charlotte another offensive dimension, Powell predicts. But acquiring Howard and his big contract from the Hawks was a head-scratcher, given that big men with limited offensive ability have become dinosaurs, Powell continues. However, Howard can still have a positive impact as a rebounder and rim protector and has little competition for the center spot, Powell adds.

Southeast Notes: Howard, Hornets, Heat

After a disappointing 2016/17 campaign, the Hornets have put themselves back in position to compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, Dennis Chambers of Basketball Insiders writes.

The addition of Dwight Howard will give the Hornets an inside presence that they lacked during their down year last season. The big man’s connection to head coach Steve Clifford – who served as an assistant coach with both the Lakers and Magic during Howard’s time there – will bode well as they settle into a new routine in Charlotte.

While Howard’s value as an elite rebounder is undisputed, the fact that the Hornets could possibly utilize Howard’s offensive skills more than his last few employers have is intriguing.

He understands that I know him,” Clifford said of the new Hornets center. “I know his game. Being around him in different settings I have a feel for what he likes to do… There is no reason he can’t get back to playing at a really high level.

Chambers also cites the addition of Malik Monk, a guard that can help shoulder the scoring load, as one of the major improvements that the Hornets will enjoy in 2017/18.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • There’s a palpable buzz surrounding the Hornets after a down year last season. Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer recently broke down the club’s new-look depth chart in detail.
  • The Heat committed to maintaining their core and culture this offseason even though it limited flexibility they may have had next summer when LeBron James and Paul George hit free agency. Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel writes that the club didn’t put their club on hold for the chance at a superstar, adding that the roster is full of tradable contracts if Pat Riley does, in fact, look to carve out some cap room.
  • Head coach Scott Brooks wants his Wizards roster to have high expectations heading into the 2017/18 season, Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic writes. “We’re trying to establish [a championship mentality] here. We want to have consistent and sustainable success,” Brooks said.

Hornets Notes: Howard, Zeller, Monk, Stone

To find a coach who still believes in him, Dwight Howard couldn’t have picked a better place than Charlotte, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The June trade that sent Howard from Atlanta to Charlotte reunited him with head coach Steve Clifford, who served as an assistant with the Magic while Howard was putting together his best seasons. “Cliff’s going to push me, but he’s not going to ever be one of those guys who I would say would break my spirit,” Howard said. “He really believes in me. Throughout all the mess that has happened the last couple of years, this is a great opportunity for me to prove to myself that I know exactly who I am — to just shut people’s mouths.”

The “mess” Howard refers to comes from feeling unwanted in Houston when he opted out last summer, then having a similar experience in Atlanta after signing a three-year, $70.5MM deal. He averaged 13.5 points and 12.7 rebounds per game with the Hawks, but his playing time dwindled in the postseason and he was barely used in the fourth quarter. Clifford expects Howard to be inspired to prove that he still has something left to offer. “From the trade until now, I think he’s very motivated to have a great year, and he badly wants us to win,” the coach said. “The last couple years have been difficult for him. I see him as motivated to work. The success of our team is the thing that keeps coming up in our conversations. He wants to be a part of our team. And that’s his priority.”

There’s more today out of Charlotte:

  • The addition of Howard may give Cody Zeller some minutes at power forward, but Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer doesn’t believe that’s his best position. In response to a question in his mailbag column, Bonnell says Clifford is considering the move, but Zeller isn’t the type of stretch four that most of the league is now using. However, Bonnell believes Zeller can excel as a backup center.
  • First-round pick Malik Monk is unlikely to work his way into the starting lineup as a rookie, Bonnell writes in response to another question. The shooting guard out of Kentucky should give the Hornets a scoring boost, but his porous defense and small size at 6’3″ make it likely that he will remain a reserve all season.
  • The release agreement that Julyan Stone negotiated with his Italian team may only cover one season, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Stone had agreed to an extension with Umana Reyer Venezia earlier this year, but requested to be freed from it so he could return to the United States to be closer to his ailing father. The Hornets had hoped to sign Stone to a two-year contract, but that will depend on the terms of his agreement in Italy.

Southeast Notes: Magic, McGruder, Wizards, Howard

Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman focused on versatile players who can play multiple positions in free agency, John Denton of the Magic’s website writes. Despite limited flexibility, the Magic struck quickly when the Spurs renounced their rights to Jonathon Simmons. Orlando also added center Marreese Speights, point guard Shelvin Mack and shooting guard Arron Afflalo to team-friendly deals, Denton continues. That improves the team’s depth and gives coach Frank Vogel a better chance to make in-game adjusments, Denton adds.

In other news around the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat are likely to retain shooting guard Rodney McGruder and forward Okaro White and give them guaranteed money, Ira Winderman of the Florida Sun Sentinel reports. Both players will receive $453K if they remain on the roster by the end of the business day on Tuesday.  They each have $1.3MM contracts for next season amount but the guarantees are equal to half of what each player would have received for the 2017/18 season under the previous NBA veteran-minimum scale, Winderman explains.
  • The Wizards are comfortable with their decision to retain small forward Otto Porter and exceed the luxury-tax apron, Chase Hughes of MidAtlantic.com reports. Porter’s four-year, $106MM contract currently puts the team on course to pay $11.4MM in luxury tax but majority owner Ted Leonsis is willing to do that for a playoff team, as he told Hughes. “You have to be in the tax, but you’re keeping the team together,” he said. “That was a worthwhile thing to do.”
  • Dwight Howard‘s familiarity with Hornets coach Steve Clifford will help Howard focus on defense next season, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer opines. Clifford coached Howard with the Magic and Lakers and knows how to dole out constructive criticism to the enigmatic center, Bonnell explains.

Hornets Notes: Point Guards, Howard, Karnowski

The Hornets are expected to target point guards through free agency, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes, especially after the franchise elected to part ways with Ramon Sessions earlier today.

Backup point guard has to be No. 1 priority,” general manager Rich Cho said. “Ideally, someone who can play with and without Kemba Walker, who plays both ends of the floor.

Worth noting is that Charlotte’s 2016/17 third-string point guard, Brian Roberts, is also a free agent this summer and may not return. That could mean that the Hornets’ front office will turn their attention to the prominent names available on the market.

All of Darren Collison, Patty Mills and Shaun Livingston will be free agents but Bonnell wonders if they may be too pricey for what the Hornets currently have available. If that’s the case, cheaper options like Michael Carter-Williams and Shelvin Mack could be in play.

Traditionally, head coach Steve Clifford likes to retain three point guards and three centers on the roster, Bonnell notes, so it’s almost inevitable that the team will add somebody. The question is, with limited cap flexibility thanks to a busy 2016 offseason, who that may be.

There’s more from the Hornets:

  • After starting his career as a mainstay with the Magic, Dwight Howard has bounced around from franchise to franchise. Dating back to his final year in Orlando, Howard has played for four teams in six seasons. The big man tells Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer that he’ll “hopefully” end his career in North Carolina.
  • Don’t rule out Dwight Howard as an offensive option in the pick-and-roll. “Go back to my time in Orlando. We used a lot of of pick and rolls,” the big man said, addressing critics in an interview with Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. “It’s not that I don’t want to set screens. People just used that to have something negative to say.”
  • Consider undrafted big man Przemek Karnowski a dark horse candidate to land a two-way contract, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes in a mailbag with readers.
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