The Atlanta Hawks’ season ended unceremoniously in the first round at the hands of the Washington Wizards, and though he was quiet in the series on the court, Dwight Howard has done everything but go quietly into the offseason.
On Saturday, surrounded by members of the media he often elected not to speak to throughout the regular season, Howard opened up about the team’s struggles and his frustration with his lack of minutes late in games.
“It was very difficult,” Howard said, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I want to play. I want to be out on the floor. I want to make a difference. I want to make an impact, and I can’t do that on the bench.”
In six games against the Wizards, Howard was on the court for just 16 minutes out of a possible 72 fourth-quarter minutes.
When asked about Howard’s reduced playing time and frustration, head coach and president of basketball operations Mike Budenholzer said, “It’s not just about Dwight. I understand the questions, I understand Dwight’s frustrations. But offense is about five guys, and Dwight brings a lot to the table that can help us be a good offensive team. All of us have to figure out how to make it better.”
In Game 6 Howard sat for the entirety of the fourth quarter, but that was largely due to the fact that the Hawks were down big and needed to strike quickly to attempt to stave off elimination.
Howard signed a 3-year, $70 million contract to join the Hawks, and has two years left on what many consider to be a “unmovable” contract, so Howard and Atlanta will have to patch things up this offseason.
Is it safe to say your role wasn’t what was laid out to you before signing?
“I’ll let you say that. I just want to get ready for next year.”
When it was suggested he was biting his tongue, Howard said, “I just want to get ready for next season.”
That might take some doing.