Houston Center Dwight Howard has declined his player option of $23.2 million for the 2016-17 NBA season, and will enter free agency, league sources told Yahoo.com. The eight-time NBA All-Star informed Houston of his choice Tuesday (June 21) .
Howard is putting a lot on the line, declining the offer means he will no longer be guaranteed any money this season. Testing the waters of free agency can be good, as long as you know your value as a player.
Howard is coming off his worst statistical season ever, maintaining an average of only 13.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 71 games this season for the Rockets. So it will be interesting to see if a contending team or a team in need of a star player will take the gamble and offer Howard a higher deal than what he would have made in Houston.
Howard, 30, has worked carefully to physically take care of himself this summer. Coming off his 12th NBA season, he has started working with renowned trainer Mike Clark based in his hometown Atlanta, regaining strength after a strenuous season.
The previous 2004 number one pick was once a top five player in the league. Early in his career with Orlando Magic, which included deep postseason runs and a ton of individual glory, with four 20-plus point, 10-plus rebound seasons between 2007-12. Howard’s résumé in the NBA includes five All-NBA first-team appearances, three Defensive Player of the Year awards and a trip to the Finals in 2009.
This summer’s free-agent market is deep with coveted big men, along with Howard, Miami’s Hassan Whiteside, Chicago’s Joakim Noah, and Charlotte’s Al Jefferson all will be free agents.