|Hornets defend ex-teammate Dwight Howard as good influence|
|Kemba, Williams say poor season was shared issue|
|Published Monday, September 24, 2018 4:00 pm|
The Charlotte Hornets had more mistakes than Dwight Howard could erase.
The Hornets signed him during the 2017 offseason, but an abysmal campaign led to a firing storm in the front office with the departure of general manager Rich Cho in-season coach Steve Clifford postseason. At 32, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Howard produced 16.6 points per game and 12.5 rebounds per game for the Hornets, who finished 36-46 and 10th in the Eastern Conference. He ranked third in the league for rebounds, fourth in double-doubles and ninth in blocks. As their second leading scorer behind All-Star point guard Kemba Walker, Howard wasn’t the problem.
“Dwight in the locker room was not a problem,” Walker said Monday at the Hornets’ media day. “I want to address that now, because he was not a problem in the locker room.”
Charlotte, which finished seven games out of eighth, failed to make the playoffs for the second straight season. Cho’s replacement, Mitch Kupchak, indicated prior to the NBA Draft they did not intend to blow up the roster. Howard departed for Brooklyn in a pre-draft trade for Timofey Mozgov and a pair of second-round picks that saved the Hornets $7 million. Mozgov left Charlotte as part of a three-team trade that included Orlando and Chicago for Bismack Biymobo and two future second-round draft picks. Howard signed with Washington as a free agent after the Nets cut him.
When Howard’s trade was announced, what Walker describes as a “misconception,” was that he became an issue in the locker room.
“Of course there’s going to be a misconception, because he’s been on many teams, and he has had a pretty bad rep over the years,” Walker said. “So, of course there is going to be a misconception, and because things didn’t go well with our season, of course they are going to say, ‘Dwight.’ To be clear, the blame cannot be solely on Dwight. It was everyone.”
Howard started 81 games for Charlotte, playing 2,463 minutes, which second only to Walker’s 2,736 minutes. Howard took time after games to work out with teammates like former Hornets guard Michael Carter-Williams, who struggled with knee issues last season.
“I don’t know if people don’t see it, but they choose to not acknowledge it,” forward Marvin Williams said. “In defending Dwight, I don’t think that’s fair to him. It’s easy for them to hear a rumor that’s he’s issue in the locker room, but they don’t hear that he’s still staying here until 11:30-12 o’clock at night to with a player that’s been injured or rehabbing. That he’s taking time to play one-on-one with Billy Hernangomez to show him post defense, or show him some moves on offense. I’ve always felt like people choose to see what they want to see, they listen to what they want to listen to, and there is nothing you can do about it. I just think sometimes it’s unfortunate for Dwight, because he was a good teammate, and he was cool here. It just wasn’t the best fit, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
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