Dwight Howard

Southeast Notes: Borrego, Swarm, Howard, Rivers

New coach James Borrego will emphasize ball movement in an effort to improve a Hornets team that ranked 24th in assists last season, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. The former Spurs assistant wants players to make quick decisions with the ball and not let the offense slow down, which led to the trade of Dwight Howard this summer.

“When the ball is just being pounded and one guy has it in his hands for five or six seconds – when we’re just seeing him dance with the ball – the rest of the defense just gets to relax and load up,” Borrego said. “You’re not going to be perfect all the time, but let’s put pressure on the defense constantly. … We demanded it in San Antonio. My job is to sell that to the players to do what’s best for the team.”

Faced with a roster that was hard to revamp because of so many large contracts, new GM Mitch Kupchak hired Borrego to bring a fresh approach to the team, which will include playing at a faster pace. Former Spurs point guard Tony Parker was signed to help implement Borrego’s philosophy on the court, and Nicolas Batum will have a larger role in running the offense while moving from the backcourt to small forward.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Hornets‘ G League affiliate in Greensboro has hired Joe Wolf as its new coach, the team announced on its website. A former assistant with the Nets and Bucks, Wolf comes to the Swarm after serving as an assistant at UNC Wilmington.
  • A pair of Wizards top the list of the list of the most underrated offseason acquisitions compiled by Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Howard occupies the No. 1 spot, signing a two-year deal in Washington after being traded by the Hornets and bought out by the Nets. He provides a huge defensive upgrade from Marcin Gortat, O’Connor notes, and could develop into an effective pick-and-roll partner with John Wall. Austin Rivers, who was acquired from the Clippers in the Gortat deal, ranks second on the list and should provide backcourt depth the Wizards have needed behind Wall and Bradley Beal.
  • Wizards rookie Troy Brown has signed a multi-year shoe deal with Nike, tweets Nick DePaula of ESPN.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Winslow, Waiters, Howard

Hornets coach James Borrego is seeking to give his team a fresh identity this season, labeling pace and ball movement as two important factors that can help the team, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer relays. Borrego was hired by the Hornets in May after spending the last three years under Gregg Popovich with the Spurs, plus a stint with San Antonio from 2003 to 2010.

“When the ball is just being pounded and one guy has it in his hands for five or six seconds – when we’re just seeing him dance with the ball – the rest of the defense just gets to relax and load up,” Borrego said. “You’re not going to be perfect all the time, but let’s put pressure on the defense constantly. … We demanded it in San Antonio. My job is to sell that to the players to do what’s best for the team.”

The Spurs are known for picking apart defenses with crisp passing, spacing and off-ball movement, and that’s exactly what Borrego hopes to bring to the Hornets this season. Charlotte helped alleviate this issue by allowing Dwight Howard, a paint-oriented player, to depart for the Wizards this summer.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Although Heat forward Justise Winslow is eligible for a contract extension, it remains unclear how the team plans to use the 22-year-old, as Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel notes in an “Ask Ira” mailbag. The Heat signed Winslow’s teammate and starting forward Josh Richardson to an extension last summer.
  • Heat guard Dion Waiters continues to work his way back from an ankle injury that sidelined him for most of the 2017/18 season, but the Syracuse product has yet to be cleared by a doctor for full-contact play. “Once I’m cleared from the doc it’s on,” he posted on social media, according to the Sun Sentinel.
  • Dwight Howard could be the missing piece the Wizards have been seeking for quite some time, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington contests. Should he buy in, Howard’s ability to defend the rim, set effective screens and play in the pick-and-roll could pay dividends for Washington.

Southeast Notes: Spoelstra, Kidd-Gilchrist, Wall

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra will have a difficult time coming up with a rotation after team president Pat Riley failed to address the logjam at several positions, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes. With Hassan WhitesideKelly OlynykBam Adebayo and James Johnson on the roster, there aren’t enough frontcourt minutes to go around and keep everyone happy, Winderman continues. There’s also an excess of shooting guards options (Rodney McGruderDion WaitersTyler JohnsonWayne Ellington and Josh Richardson) even if Dwyane Wade isn’t re-signed, Winderman adds.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • The Hornets are thinking seriously about going with smaller lineups more often, featuring Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at power forward and Frank Kaminsky at center, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reports. Charlotte has plenty of rotation-worthy options at small forward and shooting guard to allow those position changes to take place, Bonnell continues. If Kidd-Gilchrist logs significant playing time at power forward, Kaminsky could join an unsettled rotation at center and his perimeter defensive shortcomings wouldn’t be as much of an issue, Bonnell adds.
  • This is a pivotal season for Wizards point guard John Wall, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington points out. Following the upcoming season, Wall’s four-year, $170MM-plus extension kicks in and it’s time for him to show he can lead a major contender, Hughes continues. He must improve his field-goal efficiency and mesh well with incoming center Dwight Howard, Hughes adds.
  • Heat summer-league star Derrick Jones will struggle to find playing time, Winderman wrote in another mailbag piece. Get that info, plus other Miami notes, right here.

Hornets Notes: Kidd-Gilchrist, Howard, Bridges, Jordan

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will likely have a reduced role under new coach James Borrego and may not last the entire season with the Hornets, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer in a question-and-answer column. Since being taken second overall in the 2012 draft, Kidd-Gilchrist has started all but four of the games in which he has appeared during his six seasons in Charlotte, but his position may be in jeopardy.

Bonnell cites “offensive limitations” that will make him less appealing with Borrego in charge. In a league where most forwards are expected to help stretch the defense, Kidd-Gilchrist only attempted two 3-pointers last season and is 7 for 36 from long distance for his career.

With a $13MM contract for this season and a $13MM player option for 2019/20, Kidd-Gilchrist won’t be easy to move. Bonnell speculates that GM Mitch Kupchak might have more success around the trade deadline, but still may have to take on long-term salary in return.

Bonnell passes on more Hornets information in the same piece:

  • Borrego emphasizes quick decision making on offense, which is among the reasons Dwight Howard was traded away after a productive season. The new coach wants constant movement and doesn’t like to see players holding onto the ball while deciding their next move. Howard is often criticized for slowing down the offense with his low-post game.
  • The Hornets may not be in a hurry to make trades before training camp opens next month because Borrego would like some time to evaluate his players to see who best fits his system.
  • First-round pick Miles Bridges will be used primarily at small forward, but Borrego may experiment with him as a stretch four during preseason. Bonnell notes that Bridges dropped about 20 pounds between college and Summer League, where he showed that he can distribute the ball and create mismatches.
  • Team owner Michael Jordan shouldn’t be judged harshly for the Hornets’ failure to attract free agents. The organization is well over the salary cap, and Charlotte doesn’t offer the natural advantages that some other cities do. Bonnell states that if Jordan were running the Lakers, he would have been just as successful as Magic Johnson when it came to luring LeBron James.
  • Jordan can’t circumvent the salary cap to give extra money to impending free agent Kemba Walker through his shoe deal. Walker is a paid endorser of the Jordan Brand, as are some other Hornets, but the league laid out rules against using that to get around the cap way back when Jordan first got a stake in the Wizards.

Southeast Notes: Hamilton, Carter, Howard, Wade

After two years of being a fringe player for Oklahoma City, Daniel Hamilton is excited about the opportunity that awaits him with the Hawks, writes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The 23-year-old shooting guard signed this week and hopes to become part of a young core in Atlanta.

“They just told me to come in and be the best version of me I can be,” he said. “… facilitating, getting teammates better. Knocking down the open shot. Playing defense. Being able to guard different positions. Just being versatile. Versatility is my biggest asset.”

The Nuggets took Hamilton with the 56th pick in 2016 and traded him to the Thunder on draft night. He spent his entire first season in the G League, then signed a two-way deal last year that saw him play just six games at the NBA level.

“It went by fast but it felt like a long journey,” Hamilton said. “… There are different levels to it. Each and every level, I get tougher. That’s why I train and put the work in, to be prepared for moments like this.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Nearly a month after Vince Carter committed to joining the Hawks, his official signing will take place tomorrow, Vivlamore tweets. The 41-year-old has said he expects this to be his final NBA season.
  • Stan Van Gundy, who coached Dwight Howard during his rise to stardom with the Magic, says it has been difficult to witness what has happened to him in recent years. Howard, who signed with the Wizards after being traded by the Hornets and bought out by the Nets this summer, will start his third consecutive season with a new team. “It changed on Dwight quickly and it’s been not a lot of fun to watch from the outside because this guy was the best centers in the game for a long time,” Van Gundy said in a video posted by The Orlando Sentinel.
  • If Dwyane Wade returns to the Heat, his contract could range from the $2.4MM veteran’s minimum to the $5.3MM mid-level exception, and the difference would be significant for the team, notes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel.  With tax penalties, a $5.3MM salary would cost the Heat $14.2MM and move them into the second level of the tax multiplier. A minimum salary would carry a total cost of $3.8MM and make it easier for Miami to escape the tax with a trade later in the season. “I don’t think this is about negotiating a mid-level or dollars,” team president Pat Riley said. “It’s about getting Dwyane back. It’s not really about the tax right now. Even though we have a tax situation, we’ll work our way around that.”

Dwight Howard Is Serious About Playing At 40

Dwight Howard wasn’t kidding about playing into his 40s. Howard, 32, declared during his introductory press conference with the Wizards that he had “another good eight years.” As Candace Buckner of the Washington Post details, Howard has changed his training regimen over the past two summers to extend his career.

Howard has slimmed down to 265 pounds with 3.3 percent body fat, according to his trainer Ed Downs. Howard weighed 285 pounds with 12.5 percent body fat when he played for the Hawks during the 2016/17 season.

Howard realized he needed to be more agile in the current NBA climate.

“When I came into this league, I was playing against the Shaqs, the Alonzo Mournings, the Jermaine O’Neals and it was more so a physical — I’m going to see who’s the strongest guy in the paint,” Howard told Buckner. “It’s like an arm wrestling match for the big guys. And nowadays, it’s not the same game. So it’s either evolve, adapt or get left behind.”

Howard, who has battled back problems during his career, proved more durable during his season with the Hornets, appearing in all 81 games in which he was eligible, Buckner notes. The only game he missed was due to a league suspension for exceeded the league’s limit for technicals.

Howard has also worked diligently on his ballhanding and shooting in order to become more versatile. Another one of Howard’s handlers, Justin Zormelo, wants his client to evolve into “his own version” of Anthony Davis or Kevin Durant.

Buckner later clarified Zormelo’s statement, assuring that Howard doesn’t think he’s at Durant’s level but simply wants to expand his game by incorporating elements from other players (Twitter links).

Wizards Notes: Leonsis, Howard, Bench, Wall

At $5.337MM, Dwight Howard was too much of a bargain to pass up, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis tells Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. That’s the figure Washington was able to sign Howard for after he was traded to the Nets this summer and agreed to a buyout.

“At that price, I think he was the greatest addition that we could add at that position,” Leonsis said. “Really, it all comes down to the salary cap. Dwight is paid like a max player. We are paying him the mid-level exception. … He’s at the time of his career where he’s been paid a lot of money. He’s still getting paid max money. With the buyout that [the Nets] are paying him, we’re paying him the mid-level exception.”

This marks the third straight offseason that Howard has changed teams, but Leonsis calls his perceived bad reputation a “media-generated issue.” Howard remains productive and durable at age 32, averaging 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds in 81 games with the Hornets last season.

He will be a great addition to the team,” Leonsis added. “He wants to be here. His skillset is what we needed; someone who can run, play defense and rebound.”

There’s more today out of the nation’s capital:

  • Leonsis is thrilled about the offseason and gives team president Ernie Grunfeld an A for his performance in rebuilding the team, Hughes writes in a separate story. In addition to landing Howard, the Wizards added depth to their bench by trading for Austin Rivers, signing Jeff Green as a free agent and drafting Troy Brown. “I thought what Ernie did this offseason is exactly what we had planned,” Leonsis said. “I think when a season ends you sit down and see what you want to accomplish. For the Wizards, it was we need to have more balance and more depth and be more prepared for injuries.”
  • Howard is responding to critics who contend his low-post style doesn’t fit in the modern NBA, Hughes notes in another story. Howard has posted Instagram videos of his offseason workout showing him shooting 3-pointers and jump shots off the dribble from the foul line.
  • John Wall is upset about the lack of loyalty the Raptors showed to his friend DeMar DeRozan, Hughes relays in yet another article. DeRozan was shipped to San Antonio as the key piece in the Kawhi Leonard trade, allegedly after being promised by GM Masai Ujiri that he wouldn’t be dealt. “In my opinion, I don’t think there was loyalty shown on DeRozan’s part,” Wall said. “This is a business and you understand that. [But] if you talk to me man-to-man, then just be honest with me. We’re all grown men.”

Southeast Notes: Waiters, Fournier, Adebayo, Howard

In order to improve upon their 2017/18 campaign without having made any significant changes this offseason, the Heat had better hope that Dion Waiters, who missed 52 games last season, becomes this season’s Victor Oladipo, opines Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel.

There are some unquestionable similarities between Oladipo and Waiters. As Winderman notes, both were traded from Oklahoma City, both were top five selections in their respective drafts, and both are now playing for their third NBA franchise.

“You can never predict anything in this league,” Riley said. “You look at what happened last year to Indiana and how good they became getting [Domantas] Sabonis and Oladipo, how they changed, how their mentality changed. They made some good additions. Very few people talk about them.”

Per Winderman, it’s that type of under-the-radar approach from Riley that has defined the Heat’s offseason thus far. Riley seemingly believes that his team is good enough to complete already.

“One thing we have going for us is we have familiarity, we have continuity,” Riley said. “There is a system that’s been intact here. (And) not having Dion Waiters play hardly at all, you’ve got to give it another shot. You can’t just keep ripping things up every year and changing your roster.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

Southeast Notes: Riley, Howard, Kaminsky, Lamb

Heat president Pat Riley understands some fans are disappointed that he didn’t add any big names this offseason, but he’s asking them to be patient as he works to rebuild the team, relays Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Miami won’t have the cap space to pursue big-name free agents until the summer of 2020. Riley is trying to lay the groundwork for that opportunity while keeping a competitive group on the court.

“If any fan out there is unhappy or angry we didn’t go out and get LeBron James or Kevin Durant or [DeMarcus] Cousins or whatever else they felt that they would want us to get probably didn’t realize we couldn’t get them anyhow, that we couldn’t trade for them,” Riley said. “There are things I read [where] people are so uninformed about the rules and what we can and cannot do until one of you [reporters] – and most of the time you do that – [say] we couldn’t make that move.”

Riley also confirmed that he has refused to surrender first-round picks in deals to get rid of unwanted contracts.

There’s more tonight from the Southeast Division:

  • John Wall showed off his recruiting skills by convincing Dwight Howard to come to the Wizards, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Howard wasn’t considering the Wizards as he was negotiating a buyout from the Nets, but an appeal from Wall changed that. “No lie, when I saw the message on Instagram, I really got so happy,” Howard said at his introductory press conference this week. “I was like ‘John just DM’d me, oh man this is crazy!’ After that, I really just started to put on my thinking cap. I just thought about all the possibilities. I was like ‘Man, this could be the best spot for me.'”
  • Former Hornets lottery pick Frank Kaminsky is entering a vital season for his financial future, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer in a mailbag column. Kaminsky will be a restricted free agent next summer if he can’t work out an extension with Charlotte before the start of the upcoming season. The Hornets gave deals to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller before they could test the free agent waters, but Bonnell isn’t convinced that Kaminsky has the same value.
  • If the Hornets are looking to unload players at next year’s trade deadline, Jeremy Lamb will be a prime candidate to go, Bonnell writes in the same piece. Lamb has an expiring contract and Charlotte has a lot of wing players on its roster.

Southeast Notes: Howard, Wade, Hawks, Graham

Expectations are rising for the Wizards after the addition of Dwight Howard, and team officials are happy to join in, writes Tyler Byrum of NBC Sports Washington. The Wizards were able to add Howard at a bargain price following his buyout with the Nets, giving him about $11MM over two years with a player option on the second season.

Howard joins a team that already has two All-Stars in John Wall and Bradley Beal, along with young talent in Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre. Washington fortified its bench, a weak spot in recent years, with offseason moves to pick up Austin Rivers, Jeff Green and Troy Brown.

“This is probably the deepest team that we’ve had and maybe the most talented,” said GM Ernie Grunfeld. “I think it is a very deep team with a lot of versatile players that could play multiple positions. We can put a lot of different lineups out there; we can go really big and we can go really small.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Dwyane Wade has a two- to three-day window to accept a three-year, $25MM offer in China, tweets Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. The Zhejiang Golden Bulls will start looking at other foreign players if Wade doesn’t respond in that time frame. Wade, meanwhile is considered a strong bet to return to the Heat if he continues his NBA career.
  • Tonight’s agreements with Vince Carter and Daniel Hamilton will bring the Hawks to 15 guaranteed contracts once their signings become official, posts Bobby Marks on ESPN Now. Carter will receive a $2.4MM veteran’s minimum deal that will count $1.5MM toward the salary cap. Hamilton will receive a minimum contract worth $1.35MM. The Hawks used most of their $4.4MM room exception to sign Alex Len and have both two-way slots filled with Jaylen Adams and Alex Poythress.
  • Hornets rookie Devonte’ Graham apparently won’t need surgery on his injured right knee, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. A cartilage issue was discovered in the knee earlier this month, but specialists believe it will heal on its own. A team spokesman said Graham will resume basketball activity on a “conservative schedule.” He is expected to be ready for the start of training camp in September.