Howard, 31, is an eight-time All-Star center, but has fallen out of favor in consecutive years with Atlanta and Houston, and could get the career reboot he needs joining the Hornets and coach Steve Clifford. Howard and Clifford were together with the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers, and Clifford had been interested in acquiring the three-time Defensive Player of the Year in recent seasons, league sources said.
Clifford has a good working relationship with Howard and worked under coach Stan Van Gundy with Howard during his first-team All-NBA and Defensive Player of the Year seasons in Orlando.
The Hawks had been deep in negotiations Tuesday with the Brooklyn Nets on a deal, league sources said, but that bid to unload Howard was foiled when Brooklyn made a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers to trade Brook Lopez and a first-round pick for D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov.
After leaving the Houston Rockets as a free agent in 2016, Howard signed a three-year, $70 million contract with his hometown Hawks. The romance of the homecoming was short-lived, and Howard quickly struggled to fit into the Hawks’ system and plans.
For the season, Howard averaged 13.5 points and 12.7 rebounds. His playing time diminished late in the year and into the Hawks’ first-round playoff series loss to Washington.
Howard was drafted No. 1 overall out of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy by Orlando in 2004 and played eight seasons with the Magic before being traded to the Lakers in 2012.
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