Sekou Smith: Dwight Howard Never Wanted To Leave Orlando

Seemingly every year, we get hyped up about all the star-studded deals that could go down before the NBA’s trade deadline. Then the deadline comes and goes with minimal activity.

Well, this year could be different.

“I really think Dwight Howard could get moved,” NBA.com columnist Sekou Smith said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Houston is desperate to change the chemistry in that locker room and on that team, and if they’re going to do it, they need to find a way to get Dwight Howard out of there because he’s clearly a guy that has his eye elsewhere. He can opt out of his contract at the end of this season, and if he’s not committed to being a Houston Rocket and playing on that team and helping them win, Houston has to move him.”

Howard, 30, is averaging 14.6 rebounds, 12.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 blocks per game for Houston (27-28), which is in danger of missing the playoffs one year after advancing to the conference finals.

Unfortunately, Howard looks nothing like the big man who dominated in Orlando just a few short seasons ago. He averaged at least 20.6 points, 13.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game in four of his final five years with the Magic.

Since then, it’s been mostly downhill.

“The fact is, Dwight Howard never wanted to leave Orlando,” Smith said. He was getting advice from his representation that he needed to get out of Orlando to become a bigger star, which was foolish. At the time, he was the biggest star in the league. He had the most All-Star votes of anyone. Everybody was paying attention to him – and he threw it away listening to the wrong people. That’s the bottom line. He threw it away listening to people that didn’t have his best interests at heart. Now he’s been on a journey ever since trying to figure out how to find that place where he can get back to playing with a little bit of joy and ease that he played with in Orlando. He’s never been able to find it.”

Elsewhere in the NBA, Smith said that Memphis and Chicago are “both in need of a strip-down.” The Grizzlies (31-22) are fifth in the West but have little chance of staying there with Marc Gasol sidelined indefinitely with a broken foot.

And then there’s Chicago (27-25), which, by the looks of it, will have to fight tooth and nail for a playoff berth in the East.

“The Bulls are in a bit of a different pickle,” Smith said. “They have so many guys on that roster that you expect so much more from than what they’ve gotten. Joakim Noah’s injury doesn’t give them the out that Gasol’s gives Memphis. By the way it looks, this Bulls team has a small window. They thought they had it under Tom Thibodeau; it’s even smaller with this roster under Fred Hoiberg. Once it goes away, they’re in danger of falling back in the pack in the East and falling out of that top mix. If that happens, then you’ve really got a problem on your hands because you’ve got Derrick Rose coming up as a free agent in a couple years and you don’t know what the identity of your team is. So it puts you in a horrible position going forward because you’re just not sure who and what you are.”

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