Per a report from The Vertical’s Shams Charania, Dwight Howard has signed a three-year, $70.5 million deal with his hometown Atlanta Hawks. ESPN reported earlier this afternoon that Howard had a “really, really good” meeting with the Hawks, and had decided to cancel meetings with a handful of teams that were scheduled to take place in Las Vegas tomorrow.
Howard’s deal isn’t the biggest of this free agent frenzy, but his signing means that Al Horford is, in all likelihood, heading elsewhere. Rumors have Boston and Houston in contention to sign him, with OKC lurking as well. The Hawks effectively punting on Horford means that at least one all-star will swap teams this offseason.
As for Atlanta, any notion that they were going to tank after trading Jeff Teague and likely losing Horford and Kent Bazemore has been proven false. Howard isn’t the star he was five years ago (he should have won the 2011 MVP), but he is still capable of being a perfectly good starting center, at the very least. His salary isn’t particularly unreasonable, seeing as how Mike Conley is going to make seven million dollars more per year, and Dwight’s deal is relatively short. Atlanta is also a low-pressure environment, as huge media markets go, and there aren’t any ball dominant players on the roster, so he should be able to get more touches on offense. How the Hawks’ vaunted chemistry holds together with the addition of Howard will determine a lot about how far they go next season.