The new Atlanta Hawks GM had some promising words to say regarding Dwight Howard. Schlenk told the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “Listen, Dwight is one of the best big guys in the league still.” Howard averaged over 13 points a game and ranked fifth in the NBA in rebounding with 12.7 boards per contest, and Schlenk recognized that. Those numbers are even more impressive considering Howard played the least amount of minutes per game in his entire career.
Schlenk also said, “I haven’t had a chance to talk to Dwight personally. We’ve exchanged some text messages. I certainly plan to talk to him soon and get to know him. I’m not going to judge you from what I’ve heard. Let me see you face-to-face.”
Howard’s reputation proceeds him, but his presence in the locker room seemed to be mostly positive throughout his first season in his hometown. The one hiccup being after the Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs, and Howard was openly frustrated with the coach’s decision to bench him several times down the stretch of games. That type of frustration is to expected, although, it would have been nice for Howard to have kept it behind closed doors.
The Hawks owe Howard $23.5 million dollars over the next two seasons. Schlenk is not wrong about Howard being a productive player last season, as Dwight finished with the highest PER on the team. However, it is hard to make anything of these comments because saying anything negative about Howard would do the organization no good. Howard will certainly have a place on this team, and keeping him would not be the worst thing in the world, but the Hawks will be fielding offers for him, and it is not going to take much in return for them to move him.