Zach Lowe had Kevin Arnovitz on his podcast Tuesday to discuss the five most puzzling teams in the NBA, one of which was the Charlotte Hornets. The Eastern Conference is a lukewarm soup of bad teams, mediocre teams, and the Cavs and Celtics, which means the Hornets could plausibly finish fourth or 10th in the conference, so they’re definitely intriguing, and a good deal of their internal uncertainty comes down to Dwight Howard.
Will the big dude play fantastic defense like he has for a decade and shut up about post touches for God’s sake, or will he torpedo the locker room and make everyone hate him like he did in Houston, L.A., and Atlanta? As for that last point, here’s what Lowe and Arnovitz had to say about Howard’s, um, chemistry issues (it begins around the 38:00 mark):
Lowe: I don’t know what it is. No one has kind of gotten to the bottom of why. It can’t just be the corny jokes—and my god, does he tell the corniest jokes—but I’ve heard multiple stories of Hawks players learning about the trade and screaming with jubilation into their phones.
Lowe: You ask why, and one account was, like, Dwight would give these speeches before the game about how everyone is playing hard, we want unity, we’re going to … and then go out and play like a blah game where he demands post touches and doesn’t rotate as hard as he could. And everyone is like, “Why are you speaking in the locker room?” But that’s all anecdotal. It’s just crazy how these stories come out after every stop in his career.
Arnovitz: As one person inside the locker room told me, “Do you know how hard it is to make Dennis Schröeder the good guy in an internecine warfare between players?” Do you know how hard it is to have a locker room pro-Dennis in terms of just mood and personality? And, you know, that lasted two or three good weeks and then Dwight was just kvetching about not getting the ball.
Everyone has this impression of “Oh, it’s the goofiness and the fart jokes and everything else,” and actually, no, I think—he’s a downer.
So, Charlotte’s leaning towards a 10th-place finish, then.