Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics linked to Dwight Howard

Alex Reimer
June 22, 2018 - 11:03 am

The Celtics could sign an eight-time All-Star and three-time Defensive Player of the Year this summer for the veteran minimum –– or something close to it. Sounds great, right?

The answer to that question depends on your opinion of Dwight Howard.

The Hornets shipped Howard to the Nets this week, but the big man negotiated a buyout with Brooklyn, which means he’ll hit the open market July 1. Howard says he just wants to be part of a winning team.

“I want to be in a situation where I have an opportunity to help a team win,” he told ESPN’s Chris Haynes. “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.”

The Celtics’ status as one of the few true contenders in the Eastern Conference automatically makes them one of the supposed front-runners for Howard’s services. But there’s actual context to the speculation. As Yahoo Sports’ Chris Mannix notes, Danny Ainge has expressed interest in Howard in the past. Ainge is expected to pursue Howard again the summer, according to NBC Sports Boston’s A. Sherrod Blakely

Howard, 32, rebounded last season with Charlotte, averaging 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game. At his peak, he was maybe the most dominant big man in the game. Howard led the Magic over LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals. 

But since then, Howard’s career has torpedoed downwards. The Hornets were his third team in three seasons, and fifth club overall in a seven-year span. He’s clashed with Kobe Bryant, James Harden, and reportedly most of his Hornets teammates. From a talent perspective, Howard represents incredible upside on a small-money deal. His mercurial personality, however, makes the situation more complicated.

The Celtics will have to think twice before deciding whether to add Howard to their cohesive young roster. 

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