Shaq is 100 percent supportive of Dwight Howard’s plan of opting out of his contract by the summer and return to the Orlando Magic, where they both started their NBA careers.
In a report by USA Today, Shaq stated that if Howard returns to the Magic roster, it would be a good fit not only for the team but also a way for the 30-year old center to dominate the inside game again.
Howard’s number have since dwindled so is his playing time since the Houston Rockets offense circles around its superstar James Harden. The situation has surround the team with rumors of shipping Howard to other squads as the latter finds it hard to work with Harden in the court.
“I think it would be good for the city. First of all, after the first time he left, letting a big young guy get away, it shouldn’t happen a second time. All the puzzle [pieces] have to fit,” Shaq said.
Howard in an interview stated that leaving Orlando also affected him but more than him, Magic fans lambasted him for his option to leave them back in 2012 to join the Lakers. It was the same sentiments when he left the Lakers in 2013 to join the Rockets. Despite those, Howard has no bad blood with the cities wherein he played for, he just wanted to play and blend in with the community as well.
“Each city that I’ve been in, I’ve really tried to get into the community. When you build relationships with people that’s beyond basketball, and you have to leave, it really hurts. That’s something that does hurt me when people say, ‘Oh, he’s selfish’ and all that stuff. It affects me. Leaving Orlando, it affected me to the point where there were times where we were playing (with the Lakers) and I was like, ‘Man, these people don’t understand how much love I have for this city. It’s bigger than just basketball,” Howard explained.
Even Rockets’ legend center Hakeem Olajuwon is uncertain if Howard will stick around with the team as he also noticed the building tension inside the court between Howard and Harden. Olajuwon believes that Howard wants to stay in Houston, but with the growing frustration, it can fuel an exit towards the end of the season.
“I know he loves Houston, and he wants to be here. (He’s) trying to find his identity again. I think for a big man like Dwight, more of the frustration is not being utilized. He can do much more. All the big men always feel that way. That’s natural. But what I try to tell him is get more in the flow of the game. There are some intangibles (that are important). It’s not ‘I want the points. I want the rebounds.’ (It’s) intimidation, fighting for position, and (making it so) his man can’t leave him and that creates more room for James to (roam), and where if you leave him it’s a lob … There are other intangibles to bring to the team. Just win games. Don’t worry about it. Just win,” Olajuwon added.
Shaq may have given his support on Howard being home bound for Orlando next season, but Olajuwon keeps a positive mind that he would stay with the Rockets. But since the season is not yet over, Howard will have to get along with the rest of his teammates, especially Harden.
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