Dwight Howard wants 'opportunity to help team win'

Eight-time NBA All-Star Dwight Howardand theBrooklyn Netshave agreed to enter into buyout talks for his $23.8 million expiring contract.

Both sides agreed to work together on securing the buyout, sources said. Howard, 32, would then enter free agency this summer. The 6-foot-11 center would be one of the top free-agent big men on the market.

On Wednesday, the Charlotte Hornets and Brooklyn agreed to a trade that will send Howard to the Nets in exchange for centerTimofey Mozgov, two second-round picks and cash, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. The trade won't become official until after the moratorium has concluded on July 6.

"I want to be in a situation where I have an opportunity to help a team win," Howard said Thursday during a phone interview. "That's my only goal. All I need is a real chance and a clean slate where it's not people talking about my past."

Howard said he was blindsided by the trade, a transaction that allowed Charlotte to distance itself from the tax line.

"I was just really in total shock because I wasn't expecting it to happen," he said. "I thought this season was really good. For one, this is the healthiest I've been and two, my stats this season has been one of the best since I've been in the NBA."

The three-time Defensive Player of the Year recipient has yet to communicate with the Hornets' brass.

"Everything happens for a reason," Howard said. "I'm not going to allow this to distract me from what my goal is, which is to continue to get better as a player."

Howard finished the 2017-18 campaign with averages of 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 81 games. His play earned All-Star consideration. Howard's point total was his best output in the past four years and he participated in 80-plus regular-season contests for the first time in eight years.

He also expanded his game, in what he called a "resurrection year," with the addition of a midrange pull-up jumper.

"This year was an opportunity for me to show what type of player I am and where I can go," he said. "This season I made the most jump shots that I've made my whole career. I've improved my pick-and-pops. My [isolation] numbers are very high. I'm in a position where I can still dominate on the post, but I can do more things now because I understand the game on a different level. Furthermore, I still want to continue developing and growing as a player."

This past season, Howard finished sixth in the league in screen assists (4.2 per game), a screen that directly leads to a made field goal by the teammate using the pick. He was one of only three players to average at least 16 points and 12 rebounds per game.He averaged 20.6 points and 12.1 boards in March.

"I want to give a team all of me, on and off the court," Howard said. "And basically, an organization that will give me a clean slate and just let me be who I am. I still can jump, I still can play, I still can contribute and I can contribute in any system."

On March 21, Howardscored 32 points and pulled down 30 rebounds during a 111-105 victory over the Nets. Howard and Kevin Love(November 2010) are the only two players to produce 30-30 games in the past 36 years.

Howard's talent has never been questioned. There has been a perception, however, that he's a locker room issue. Although there were no major rifts reported in-season the past two years, rumors of Hornets players disliking Howard surfaced as soon as word leaked that he was joining his fourth different team in as many years.

Atlanta Hawks guard Kent Bazemore played with Howard during the 2016-17 season.

"[Dwight's] gotten so much of a bad rap, but he's a great teammate," Bazemore told ESPN. "For such a long season, his energy and his laughing helps you get through. And if you're going through a tough stretch personally, it's good to have that type of person around. Before he signed in Atlanta, there was all this bad stuff said about him. ... I found that he has a good heart and he works hard every day to turn that perception around."

Howard questions the motives of his detractors.

"I know a lot of people are going to always have questions and try to point it to one thing or the other, but a lot of times you always have to consider the source," Howard said. "And when somebody always downplays another player, you have to check their character also. But there's always going to be rumors. But on the flip side, when I was in Atlanta, I was considered the best teammate and I got the award for being the best teammate. I've always prided myself on treating people how I wanted to be treated."

Whichever team he plays for next, he plans to step his game up even further.

"I felt like this year was a resurgence for me and the biggest reason is because I'm healthy," he said. "I didn't have any problems this whole year. My whole goal is to come back next season, improve and try to win a championship for my team."

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