Free agent center Dwight Howard has signed a three-year, $70 million deal with the Atlanta Hawks, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports. The 30-year-old Howard is an Atlanta native.
Howard is coming off a season in which he averaged just 13.7 points, his lowest output since his rookie year, along with 11.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks for a disappointing Houston Rockets team. He did appear in 71 games after playing in just 41 the year before due to various back and leg injuries, which helped ease concerns about his durability.
Howard, and eight-time All-Star and five-time member of the league's All-NBA First Team, has seen his game slowly decline over the years. He signed with the Rockets prior to the 2013 season and played a major role in the team's Western Conference Finals run last postseason. This year, though, everything fell apart, as Howard struggled on the floor and in the Rockets' locker room.
"I'm always interested in winning, but sometimes as a big you want to feel a part of what's going on," he said while appearing as a guest on TNT's Inside the NBA in May. "If I could bring the ball up the court and shoot threes, go between the legs and all that stuff then that'd be great -- but I have to rely on my teammates in certain aspects to get the ball. Now, there are times where I have been upset and I've taken myself out of games in situations -- and that's on me -- and I have to grow and be a better player. "
Reports emerged that chemistry between Howard and Houston teammate James Harden was "cordially bad." Howard's former head coach Kevin McHale, who was fired early last year, told SiriusXM Radio in April that he thinks Howard's body has betrayed him.
"Throw it down to him occasionally," McHale said, via ESPN. "But if you throw it down to him on a steady diet, the poor guy just can't get down low and move anymore. I think that [his] back bothered him, his hips are tight from that and he just wasn't the same player."
That said, Howard is still a solid rim protector and strong rebounder. That's exactly what the Hawks need. Atlanta finished No. 26 in the league in defensive rebound percentage last season and could lose incumbent center Al Horford in free agency.