Howard was dealt from the Charlotte Hornets to the Nets on Wednesday in exchange for Timofey Mozgov, two second-round picks and cash.
Because the trade won’t become official until the league’s moratorium ends, a buyout on his $23.8 million expiring contract would make Howard a free agent no earlier than July 6.
Though he’s a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and five-time All-NBA First Team selection, Howard’s stature in the league has been on the decline over the past few years and his next team will be his sixth in eight seasons.
While the 32-year-old is still a productive player – he averaged 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks last season with Charlotte – Howard carries question marks regarding his chemistry with team-mates and willingness to play more of a supporting role.
According to Howard, he wants to help a team win at his next stop.
“I want to be in a situation where I have an opportunity to help a team win,” Howard told ESPN. “That’s my only goal. All I need is a real chance and a clean slate where it’s not people talking about my past.”
If Howard’s main priority is winning a ring, the team that immediately jumps out is the Golden State Warriors.
The defending champions won’t be able to offer Howard much money – they’re already juggling their finances with four max contract calibre players – but if he wants to join on the veteran’s minimum to ring chase and rebuild his reputation, the Warriors would be an appealing option.
Outside of the value for money, it might not make much sense for Golden State though. Why risk ruining a good thing by bringing in a player who could potentially harm the locker room and derail a dynasty? As unlikely as that outcome is, the Warriors have little incentive to risk it.
I'd be stunned if Warriors even entertained the idea of Dwight Howard. They've publicly laid out their plans go young, hungry and smaller (more wings, fewer vet bigs), plus still feeling sting of Swaggy P whiff.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) June 21, 2018
Another team that could pursue Howard is the Washington Wizards, who are reportedly trying to unload centre Marcin Gortat.
Even by ridding themselves of Gortat’s $13.5m contract, the Wizards could only offer Howard minimum money, but he would potentially be a high-impact player on a team that could compete in the Eastern Conference.
Speaking of contenders in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics have a need for a big man and, like the Warriors, are attractive for ring chasers.
Howard is a fascinating free agent. Does he ring chase? Nets are paying him $20-plus million anyway. And tuck this away: Danny Ainge has liked—and expressed interest in—Howard in the past.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixYS) June 21, 2018
Boston are already over the salary cap, but they could potentially use the mid-level exception on Howard, who would benefit from playing next to three All-Stars and in Brad Stevens’ fluid system.
The biggest question is what does Howard want? A championship? Another decent contract? A significant role? Whatever it is, it will dictate where he ends up.
This year’s NBA draft feels more unpredictable than usual, with rumours flying everywhere of teams looking to move up and down.
And of course, there will inevitably be a trade that no one could have seen coming because as fluid as the draft is, the decision-making of teams will change in real time.
With that said, here’s a round-up of some of the biggest rumours making the rounds on draft day.
Teams lining up for Doncic
No one seems to know what direction Vlade Divac will go in, but Marvin Bagley has been the name most linked with the Kings in the lead-up. If Sacramento indeed select the Duke product, that could open the floodgates at three.
However, they’ll also have no shortage of suitors for a trade, as teams are expected to make a run at the pick to nab Doncic for themselves, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Mannix.
Doncic is considered one of the best international prospects to ever enter the draft and was in the mix for the top pick before Phoenix seemed to settle on Ayton.
If Atlanta aren’t as enamored with him as other teams, moving further down in the lottery while netting additional assets may the move.
Grizzlies trying to package four and Parsons
Like Atlanta, the Memphis Grizzlies could be willing to move down in the draft, but with the caveat that their trading partner must take on Chandler Parsons’ contract, according to Givony.
Parsons, who has played a total of 42 games over the past two seasons due to injuries, is owed $49.2 million over the next two years.
What offers the Grizzlies get for the fourth pick will depend on who’s still available, especially if Doncic is still on the board.
Memphis favour Duke big man Wendell Carter Jr, according to the report, which means they would only want to move down a couple picks to ensure they can land their man. That would put Dallas at five, Orlando at six and Chicago at seven as the most-likely trade partners.
Bamba number five
They could also reportedly make a deal with Chicago and move down to seven to select Michael Porter Jr, who is a favourite of the Mavericks’ ownership.
Dallas may also receive an offer from the New York Knicks, who met with Bamba in New York on Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Ian Begley.
The Knicks hold the ninth pick and Bamba is expected to be long gone by then. However, outside of their own selection, New York don’t possess the same assets other teams do to entice the Mavericks.
The next wave of talent is set to hit the NBA through the draft, taking place on Thursday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The 30 teams, assuming they haven’t traded their selection, will choose from a pool of players over two rounds, with 60 picks in total.
Some teams will have more picks than others because of previous trades, while draft night brings with it the possibility of more movement as teams can continue to deal throughout.
Here, we predict how the first round will shake out with our mock draft.
1. Phoenix Suns – Deandre Ayton, centre, Arizona
It seems like a lock Phoenix will take Ayton, who has all the physical tools and skills to be a franchise cornerstone, although his defence needs plenty of work.
2. Sacramento Kings – Marvin Bagley, forward, Duke
Bagley isn’t one of the more skilled players in the draft, but there’s no doubting his athleticism. Still, Sacramento may end up regretting passing on Luka Doncic.
3. Atlanta Hawks – Luka Doncic, guard, Slovenia
A teenager who dominated among men in the EuroLeague, Doncic has proven he’s advanced for his age. Atlanta will be thrilled to add his playmaking.
4. Memphis Grizzlies – Jaren Jackson Jr, forward, Michigan St
An ideal big in today’s game, Jackson can protect the rim and space the floor with his shooting. His two-way potential is just what the Grizzlies need to build around.
5. Dallas Mavericks – Mohamed Bamba, centre, Texas
Bamba’s 7-foot-10 wingspan is off the charts, making him a special rim protector, while his shooting appears to be improving. A high upside pick for Dallas.
6. Orlando Magic – Trae Young, guard, Oklahoma
Young looked like the second-coming of Steph Curry at Oklahoma, but was also wildly inconsistent. For Orlando, it’s between Young and Collin Sexton.
7. Chicago Bulls – Michael Porter, forward, Missouri
A back injury hurt his draft stock, but if he’s fully healthy, Porter has the potential to be a steal. The mystery around his health should drop him into the Bulls’ laps.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers – Wendell Carter Jr, forward, Duke
If the Cavaliers keep the pick, Carter would be a safe pick to begin Cleveland’s potential rebuild. He can do a little bit of everything and would anchor the Cavaliers.
9. New York Knicks – Kevin Knox, forward, Kentucky
Knox is the second-youngest player in the draft and unpolished, but the upside is evident for a combo forward who has seen his stock rise after team workouts.
10. Philadelphia 76ers – Mikal Bridges, forward, Villanova
A 3-and-D wing that should come in and help immediately as a rotation player, Bridges fills multiple needs the Sixers have. Plus he’s a local kid.
11. Charlotte Hornets – Collin Sexton, guard, Alabama
Kemba Walker may not be with Charlotte much longer, which would open up a hole at point guard that Sexton could fill well with his scoring and intensity.
12. Los Angeles Clippers – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, guard, Kentucky
The Clippers could package 12 and 13 to move up, but if they stay put Gilgeous-Alexander would give them a combo guard at a position they need to get younger.
13. Los Angeles Clippers – Robert Williams, forward, Texas A&M
After going guard at 12, LA can nab an athletic big in Williams who can take over when DeAndre Jordan is no longer around and do similar things.
14. Denver Nuggets – Zhaire Smith, guard, Texas Tech
He’s raw, but the tools are there between his shooting stroke, athleticism and defensive versatility. Denver can afford to be a little patient in developing him.
15. Washington Wizards – Miles Bridges, forward, Villanova
A wing who projects as a solid role player, Bridges would fit well with Washington, where his weaknesses as a ball-handler and creator won’t be magnified.
16. Phoenix Suns – Lonnie Walker IV, guard Miami
Walker’s freshman season didn’t start as expected, but he finished strong and showed the ability to create his own shots as an explosive guard.
17. Milwaukee Bucks – Aaron Holiday, guard, UCLA
It’s obvious Milwaukee need shooting and Holiday can certainly provide that with his smooth stroke to help space the floor for the Bucks’ athletes.
18. San Antonio Spurs – Troy Brown, guard, Oregon
It looks like Kawhi Leonard may be gone soon, so someone like Brown, who also fits the Spurs’ profile as a high-IQ playmaker, makes a lot of sense.
19. Atlanta Hawks – Elie Okobo, guard, France
After taking Doncic at 3, why not keep the international trend going with a point guard that has plenty of ability to shoot and score?
20. Minnesota Timberwolves – Keita Bates-Diop, forward, Ohio State
His length makes him a versatile chess piece that can be used in a variety of lineups, while also allowing him to hold his own defensively after a switch.
21. Utah Jazz – Donte DiVincenzo, guard, Villanova
His explosion in the NCAA title game put him squarely on the radar and the Jazz will welcome his long-distance shooting off the catch and off the dribble.
22. Chicago Bulls – Chandler Hutchison, forward, Boise State
There’s been noise Chicago gave Hutchinson a first-round promise, and the senior’s mature game would be valuable for the Bulls.
23. Indiana Pacers – Kevin Huerter, guard, Maryland
Huerter has apparently done well in team workouts and is considered one of the best shooters in the draft, something the Pacers should covet.
24. Portland Trail Blazers – Khyri Thomas, guard, Creighton
Portland need better defence from their backcourt and Thomas will help with that instantly, while also offering outside shooting on the other of the floor.
25. Los Angeles Lakers – Jacob Evans, forward, Cincinnati
The Lakers will try to assemble a super team this summer, which means they’ll need 3-and-D role players like Evans to fit around their potential stars.
26. Philadelphia 76ers – Mitchell Robinson, centre, Chalmette High School
After getting a much-needed wing at 10, the Sixers can take a flier on the raw but talented Robinson to improve their front-court depth.
27. Boston Celtics – Grayson Allen, guard, Duke
Boston is loaded on the wing, so they’ll likely take a guard or big man, and Allen is the exact type of player Danny Ainge loves having on his team.
28. Golden State Warriors – Jerome Robinson, forward, Boston College
The Warriors will look for young players who can help right away and Robinson fits the mold as a junior who can play on or off the ball.
29. Brooklyn Nets – Dzanan Musa, forward, Bosnia and Herzegovina
He has experience as a pro, but still needs time to develop and get acclimated to the NBA game. Brooklyn are in no rush so they can take the chance.
30. Atlanta Hawks – Josh Okogie, guard, Georgia Tech
Another 3-and-D candidate, Okogie can switch onto multiple positions and still has room to get better. Atlanta might also look to move this pick.