Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard Suspended For One Game

After posting historic numbers for the Hornets on Wednesday night in Brooklyn, Dwight Howard won’t suit up for the team’s game on Thursday vs. the Grizzlies. Howard has been suspended for one game after picking up his 16th technical foul of the season on Wednesday, the NBA confirmed today in a press release.

With 16.6 PPG and 12.2 RPG in 72 games for the Hornets this season, Howard is averaging a double-double for the 14th straight year, but Wednesday’s double-double may have been the most impressive of his career. The veteran center racked up an eye-popping 30 rebounds to go along with 32 points in Charlotte’s comeback victory over the Nets.

However, because he also picked up a technical foul in that game, Howard will sit out tonight’s game. NBA rules dictate a one-game suspension when a player reaches 16 technical fouls in a season. Howard, who was the first player to reach that 16-tech mark this season (Draymond Green has 15), would be suspended one additional game for every two technical fouls he earns going forward.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets, Howard’s one-game ban will cost him just over $162K, 1/145th of his 2017/18 salary ($23.5MM). Under the NBA’s previous Collective Bargaining Agreement, a suspension resulted in a player losing 1/110th of his current-year salary, so Howard and other suspended players have saved a little money under the new CBA’s rules this season, Marks observes (via Twitter).

Southeast Notes: Howard, Heat, Satoransky

Dwight Howard has surpassed expectations this season for the Hornets. In 58 games, Howard is averaging 15.4 PPG and 12.8 RPG for Charlotte, which is his best output since 2013/14 for a season in which he played more than 41 games.

Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer opines that trading Howard after such a productive season may be the team’s best option of shedding salary. Howard will make $23MM next season and if the Hornets can get some salary relief and young players in return, Charlotte should pull the trigger, Bonnell writes.

A trade would mean that Howard would join his fourth team in four years. This time, however, he would be dealt because his value is high rather than as a straight salary dump.

“If I went back and told our trainers in Orlando, and our strength coaches, that he was going to be playing at this level now, with the state that his knee was back then, they would have said, ‘No way,’” said head coach Steve Clifford, who was a coach with the Magic and Lakers during Howard’s stints with those organizations. “You’re talking about a guy that’s had major knee surgery and major back surgery … You’d never know it.”

Check out other Southeast Division notes below:

  • Howard drew his 12th technical foul of the season in Friday’s road contest against the Wizards, Bonnell writes in a separate story. The center has a history of racking up technical fouls; he is now four away from an automatic suspension.
  • It has been three years since the Heat acquired an All-Star caliber player (Goran Dragic) and seven years since the team assembled LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in South Beach. Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald looks at the future and Miami’s chance of landing another top free agent.
  • Tomas Satoransky has played well for the Wizards as the team has struggled with injuries and lack of depth at the point guard position. Candance Buckner of the Washington Post writes that Satoransky and the team are both happy to see reinforcements on the way — including Ramon Sessions, who signed a 10-day deal — to aid the team in the postseason chase.

Southeast Notes: Whiteside, Heat, Howard, Wall

Heat center Hassan Whiteside believes his team’s lack of national exposure contributed to him being overlooked for the All-Star Game, relays Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Whiteside is having a solid season, averaging 14.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per night, and the Heat are fourth in the East at 27-20, but Kristaps Porzingis, Kevin Love and Al Horford were selected ahead of him as reserve frontcourt players.

“You know, it’s confusing,” Whiteside said. “I get confused about it sometimes. Is it about stats? Or is it about winning?”

Of the 15 teams with the league’s best records, the Heat were the only ones not to have an All-Star. Whiteside suggested it’s because the team has barely appeared on national television. TNT hasn’t televised a single Miami game this season, while ESPN has shown just one, with another scheduled broadcast bumped for a Celtics-Timberwolves contest.

“The NBA pushes teams,” he said. “The NBA pushes guys. The media pushes people. There’s teams all got Christmas games that stink, so I’m not going to say what teams, but you all know those teams that shouldn’t be playing on Christmas.”
There’s more from the Southeast Division:
  • The Heat have taken a creative approach to getting maximum value out of their two-way players, Jackson adds in a separate story. Both are close to their NBA limit, with nine days left for Derrick Jones and six for Derrick Walton. Miami is conserving their time by not having them travel with the team on the flight home from Houston after Monday’s game and not having them at practice today. All two-way players will be eligible to join their teams after their G League season [or playoff run] is over, even if they have used all 45 days. For Jones and Walton, that will be March 24, unless Sioux Falls makes the postseason.
  • Gambling on Dwight Howard has turned out to be a good move, Hornets coach Steve Clifford tells Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Howard’s problems with free throws and turnovers haven’t gone away, but his coach contends the 32-year-old center has made a difference by still being a dominant rebounder and rim protector. “This might be his best [season] since his second year in Houston,” Clifford said.
  • Mavericks guard J.J. Barea is getting a strong reaction to his negative comments about John Wall, relays Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. After the Wizards lost Monday in Dallas, Barea told reporters he doesn’t believe Wall is liked by his teammates. “I’ve never had a teammate say he didn’t like me,” Wall said to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post (Twitter link). “If it’s true, nobody would be man enough to say it to me so I don’t believe it. … I don’t let that affect me.”

Southeast Notes: Richardson, Isaac, Graham, Howard

Josh Richardson has emerged as the most efficient small forward the Heat have had since LeBron James departed for the Cavaliers, according to Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel. Injuries to other wing players have given Richardson an expanded role and he’s taken full advantage, averaging 17.6 PPG this month on 54.8% overall shooting and 50.9% from long range. “This is a continuation of the end of last season, completing a good summer of development,” coach Erik Spoelstra told Winderman and other beat reporters. “He’s gaining more confidence with game minutes. I think that will only continue to get better.”

  • Magic rookie forward Jonathan Isaac‘s latest right ankle injury is not as severe as the one that kept him out for 17 games, John Denton of the team’s website reports. Isaac has missed the last two games after re-injuring the ankle on Wednesday. He’s hopeful he can return as early as Tuesday’s game against Miami. “It’s completely different and just a little re-aggravation,” Isaac told reporters. “Feeling OK and it’s the same thing – day to day – and hopefully I’ll get back soon.”
  • Hornets shooting guard Treveon Graham played a strong 28 minutes off the bench on Saturday and could see steadier playing time, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. Graham scored 14 points as the club rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat the Bucks. Graham needs to be productive to stay on the roster. His $1.3MM contract doesn’t become fully guaranteed unless he’s still on the roster through January 10th.
  • The Hornets were fearful that center Dwight Howard would be out an extended period after suffering a dislocated left ring finger on Friday, Brendan Marks of the Charlotte Observer relays. Instead, Howard returned to action on Saturday. “I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a month or two months based on the way it kind of looked and the way it was popping out or whatever,” acting coach Stephen Silas told Marks.

Cody Zeller To Undergo Surgery, Miss Six Weeks

Hornets center Cody Zeller will undergo surgery to repair torn meniscus in his left knee on Tuesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets, citing league sources. Zeller is expected to miss six weeks, Wojnarowski adds.

Zeller injured the knee last week against the Warriors. Zeller was relegated a second-unit role this season with the addition of Dwight Howard but had been productive, averaging 7.2 PPG and 5.5 RPG. In his absence, Frank Kaminsky and Johnny O’Bryant will likely share minutes behind Howard. Kaminsky has missed two games with an ankle sprain but is expected to play Monday.

Zeller, 25, has long-term security but it remains to be seen whether the knee injury will have a lingering effect. He’s making $12.6MM this season and his contract runs through the 2020/21 season.

If the Hornets want to add a big man, they could sign a free agent to a pro-rated, non-guaranteed minimum deal and remain below the luxury tax line, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. The Hornets have a roster spot open and are $1.8MM below the tax line, Marks notes.

Southeast Notes: Ross, Gordon, Howard, Batum

The Magic have fallen on tough times after an 8-4 start, but they are just two and a half games out of a playoff spot and still qualify as one of this year’s early-season surprises. Coach Frank Vogel tells Nick Friedell of ESPN the team made a mistake at the start of last season by going against the small-ball trend, adding that things began to turn around with the trade of Serge Ibaka to Toronto for Terrence Ross. That created an opening for Aaron Gordon at power forward and Evan Fournier at small forward.

“I think last year we were trying to go big when the whole league was going small and it wasn’t really working,” agreed center Nikola Vucevic. “A lot of guys were out of their comfort zone, a lot of guys were out of position. It just wasn’t working, it wasn’t clicking. I think this year players’ roles are more clear.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • New GM John Hammond is confident that Gordon, a restricted free agent, will agree to a long-term contract next summer, Friedell relays in the same story. Orlando wasn’t able to work out an extension with Gordon before last month’s deadline, but Hammond believes his future will be with the Magic“You look at a guy like that and say, ‘He’s one of those guys as you move forward with, that you got to have,'” Hammond said. “And we feel that way.” Gordon is off to the best start of his career, averaging 17.6 points and 8.1 rebounds in 17 games.
  • Early-season technical fouls are piling up for Hornets center Dwight Howard, notes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. The NBA announced today that Howard was fined $35K for an obscene gesture in Friday’s game at Cleveland. That’s his second fine this season and sixth technical in 18 games. There will be an automatic one-game suspension if he reaches 16, and the league could impose a separate suspension if the obscene gestures continue.
  • Nicolas Batum isn’t worried about any long-term effects from his latest elbow injury, Bonnell tweets. Batum was able to return to the Hornets‘ lineup tonight after sitting out Friday. He left Wednesday’s game with a contusion on his left elbow, the same one that caused him to miss the first 12 games of the season.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Howard, Deng

The Hornets will soon be charged with the task of working Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Nicolas Batum back into their lineup, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. The former will return to action after a three-game absence tonight.

Batum, sidelined since October with a left elbow injury, could return to the court as early as next Wednesday. Both will be welcome additions to a Hornets lineup that has moseyed out to a 5-6 start this season.

With Batum and Kidd-Gilchrist back in the lineup, head coach Steve Clifford will need to figure out what to do with the likes of Jeremy Lamb, Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon, all of whom have stepped up with recent opportunities.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

Hawks Fully Embrace Total Rebuild

Hawks majority owner Tony Ressler is convinced the franchise had no choice but to go into full rebuild mode, as he told NBA.com’s David Aldridge in an extensive piece on the team’s direction. New GM Travis Schlenk helped convince Ressler that the franchise was spinning its wheels and needed to stockpile draft picks while developing a young core, Aldridge continues.

“Truly, there are three options in the NBA, I would argue: being a contender, being a competitive team, and being young and fun,” Ressler told Adridge. “At least that would be my opinion. And we didn’t have the option of being a contender. So we could be competitive, or more competitive, and maybe, shall we say, with a whole bunch of higher-priced vets that made us older and made our payroll less flexible, and made our future more cloudy.”

Instead, Ressler selected the “young and fun” option, despite knowing the losses would pile up this season. The team has five first-round picks during the next two drafts, including one from the Clippers that they acquired this offseason by getting involved in a three-way deal that included the Nuggets. The Hawks also traded away center Dwight Howard and opted not to pursue their top free agent, power forward Paul Millsap.

Aldridge also offered these nuggets in the story:

  • The team is building around point guard Dennis Schroder, second-year wings Taurean Prince and DeAndre’ Bembry, and rookie big man John Collins.
  • Schlenk feels pressure to produce on the draft picks: “It’s my job to, hopefully, get four of those right,” he said.
  • Ressler told coach Mike Budenholzer that he didn’t think anyone could be an effective head coach and run the organization at the same time. Budenholzer relinquished his duties as president of basketball operations. “I tried to convince him and I think he realized fully that being the GM is a full-time job,” Ressler said. “So why does anyone on earth think they can do two extraordinarily difficult jobs? And I believe Bud saw that very clearly.”
  • Budenholzer lobbied Schlenk to make an offer to Millsap even after the decision to rebuild was made.

Southeast Notes: Kidd-Gilchrist, Howard, Morris, Payton

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist rejoined the Hornets for practice today following a 12-day excused absence after his grandmother’s death, relays Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. The fifth-year small forward left the team midway through preseason and is working on conditioning so he can return to action. “He’s good, he’s a worker,” said coach Steve Clifford. “I really don’t have any idea when (he can play a significant role again), but he’s going to have to practice some for him to be ready to be play. I think we’ll know better after (Sunday), when we’ll do more contact.”

There’s more today out of Charlotte:

  • Several former teammates of Hornets center Dwight Howard are disputing allegations that he was hard to get along with last season, writes Michael Cunningham of The Journal-Constitution. Amid reports that the Hawks wanted to get rid of Howard’s “negative influence” and that some players were happy to see him leave, at least two players are coming to his defense. Malcolm Delaney denied the accusation on Twitter, and Dennis Schroder says Howard is misunderstood. “Off the court he is a good guy,” Schroder said. “He did a great job trying to bring everybody together, as always. On the court we are too different. That’s on the court. But off the court, I think [he’s] amazing.”
  • Wizards power forward Markieff Morris is making progress in his return from abdominal surgery, according to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Morris was part of the team’s weightlifting session today and played one-on-one games against teammates. He still isn’t expected to return to action until mid-November, but the team is encouraged by his progress. “He did everything. He did the entire 20 minutes of one-on-one live, which was great for him,” said coach Scott Brooks. “Playing against other NBA players is the next step of coming back … he’s tired of competing against the coaching staff and playing against us because you get false confidence playing against me and my staff. But it was good, he gave a good 20 minutes. The conditioning is pretty good, considering he’s coming back from the hernia surgery.”
  • Magic guard Elfrid Payton was diagnosed with a “mild to moderate strain” of his left hamstring after an MRI, writes Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. He was held out of today’s game and the team hasn’t provided an estimate of when he might return.

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.