Dwight Howard is at a crossroads in his career. At 30 years old after entering the league straight out of high school, his best athletic days are certainly behind him, yet he still views himself as one of the very best players in the league. He’s signed with the Houston Rockets for another year at $23 million, but with an opt-out clause that he’s expected to exercise to make himself a free agent. If he hits the open market, questions will continue to be raised about his true value on the court, and what kind of person he can be in the locker room.
Dwight filled in for Shaquille O’Neal on Inside the NBA Tuesday night, and while he did acquit himself fairly well in basketball analysis, by far the most interesting portion of the night was when Charles Barkley asked Dwight about why he’s disliked by so many people and why he seemed disinterested for stretches of the past season.
Dwight was surprisingly forthcoming, pinpointing the backlash to his ignominious split from the Orlando Magic — only one possible explanation, but a salient one. It wasn’t the most comfortable moment, as Dwight’s friend Chandler Parsons noted:
Even more surprisingly, Dwight admitted to falling out of games mentally when he didn’t get the ball, and copped to feeling left out of Houston’s perimeter-driven offense. Chuck also asked Howard about his impending free agency, and the big man was unsurprisingly noncommittal:
Dwight Howard on whether he’s decided on opting out of his contract with Houston: https://t.co/HVY9giGeWt
— TurnerSportsPR (@TurnerSportsPR) May 11, 2016
Howard had nothing to gain from making a definitive statement at this point, but he was still impressively honest for what we know about Dwight. Maybe a fourth team will get a Dwight Howard with renewed focus like he promises; crazier things have happened.