The Philadelphia 76ers got on the board almost three hours into free agency on Friday night, signing Dwight Howard to a one-year, $2.6 million deal. Hours beforehand, reports surfaced that Howard was on the verge of a deal to remain with the Lakers. According to Chris Haynes, Joel Embiid assisted in recruiting the former all-star center to Philly. In recent days, buzz had been growing around Nerlens Noel returning to Philadelphia. Now, the Sixers, who traded Al Horford and waived Norvel Pelle earlier this week, have their backup center–and he costs far less than $97 million guaranteed.
Howard revitalized his career with the Lakers, averaging 7.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game off of Los Angeles’ bench. Much of Howard’s work came on the offensive glass last season:
Dwight Howard scored 164 points off put backs. His 27% FT% is tops among all players with over 100 put backs— Thiago (@TScabbia) November 21, 2020
Should be a big presence off the o-glass and the PnR https://t.co/OszOsqyEmN
Howard will serve as a low-cost backup to anchor the Sixers’ defense when Embiid sits. He brings a credible presence to the floor when Embiid is load-managing. Howard joins Danny Green as the second player from the reigning-champs to join the Sixers this week. He had developed a reputation for being problematic in the middle years of his career. But, by all accounts, showed tremendous growth and maturity in Los Angeles. Of intrigue is his relationship with Jameer Nelson. The Sixers recently hired Nelson as a scout (and Assistant GM of the Blue Coats). Howard enjoyed his best seasons with Nelson as a teammate in Orlando. Morey was able to lure Howard from Los Angeles to Houston in 2013 and, evidently, that relationship was withstood the test of time.
Howard’s veteran minimum contract will result in a cap hit of $1.6 million. The Sixers can still look to bring in depth on veteran minimum deals. Philadelphia also has the $5.7 million tax-payer mid-level exception to use. Daryl Morey and the rest of the front office may not be done yet.