Dwight Howard’s list of NBA free agency suitors was a short one — very short.
The former All-Star center said the Philadelphia 76ers were the only team to reach out to him, leading to him eventually signing a one-year, $2.9 million contract with the team.
“The reason why I was super locked-in on being here in Philly is that Doc [Rivers] was the only coach that called me during this free-agency process,” Howard said during his introductory press conference Wednesday. “He was the first one to call me and he said ‘we want you. We want you on our team.’ And then [team president] Daryl [Morey] called.”
Howard appeared to give little thought to going elsewhere after that.
“I said this is where I need to be right now,” the 34-year-old said. “This is where my journey is calling me. To Philly. I’m super happy that Doc called me, that he gave me the opportunity, and I told him yes. I told him I would come.”
The admission that the 76ers were the lone team seriously interested in Howard makes it that much stranger that the 6-foot-11 former defensive player of the year tweeted he was returning to the Lakers and then deleted it. According to Yahoo Sports, Howard was under the impression he was returning to Los Angeles, but it was merely a “concept” and nothing close to the done deal he believed it was.
Howard averaged 7.5 points and 7.3 rebounds last season, helping LeBron James and Co. win the NBA championship. Getting that elusive title has changed his perspective on what his role on a team can be.
“Winning the championship was everything, and it made me realize I could have the best stats in the world and it don’t mean nothing,” Howard said. “Because here it was, I won a championship and there was games where I didn’t score a bucket, or get a field goal, or get minutes in a game. What really matters is just holding up that trophy.”