Dwight Howard is heading to his fifth team in seven seasons – and for the third time Steve Clifford will be there to coach him.
The Charlotte Hornets reunited the Howard-Clifford pairing on Tuesday night in a surprise blockbuster trade with the Atlanta Hawks, according to multiple reports.
In a clear buy-low move for general manager Rich Cho and the Hornets front office, the franchise added Howard and the No. 31 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft in exchange for Marco Belinelli, Miles Plumlee and this year’s No. 41 overall draft selection.
Howard is owed $47 million over the next two seasons, but the Hornets were able to shift a portion of that cost to Atlanta with Plumlee’s remaining contract (3 years, $37.5 million) and Belinelli’s $6.6 million expiring contract.
Sources: Charlotte is sending Miles Plumlee, Marco Belenelli and 41st pick to Atlanta for Dwight Howard and 31st pick.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 21, 2017
Howard continues to struggle finding his place in the faster-paced, shooting-centric NBA game, but he does fit into Clifford’s emphasis on controlling the defensive boards. In Howard, the Hornets could find another useful big in their rotation alongside Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky. The 7-footer averaged 13.5 points and 12.7 rebounds for his hometown Hawks during the 2016-17 season.
With Howard in place, Cho & Co. can turn to the No. 11 pick in the draft to continue to help build around their core of Zeller, Kemba Walker, Nic Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marvin Williams and make a return trip to the postseason in 2018.