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Reports: Dwight Howard negotiating buyout with Brooklyn Nets

From NBA Twitter and media reports

Veteran center and former All-Star Dwight Howard is reportedly working on a buyout from the team that just reportedly acquired him a day earlier.

According to ESPN’s Chris Haynes and Yahoo Sports’ Shams Charania, the Brooklyn Nets and Howard are expected to finalize a buyout agreement that will put Howard into the free-agent pool for 2018. Here’s what Charania reports:

After being traded to the Brooklyn Nets, five-time NBA All-Star Dwight Howard is expected to finalize a buyout with the franchise and enter free agency in July, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Howard and the Nets have an understanding of completing the buyout once the league’s free-agent moratorium ends July 6, league sources said.

On Wednesday, the Charlotte Hornets reportedly agreed to trade Howard to the Nets two future second-round picks, cash and center Timofey Mozgov. In an interview with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Thursday, Howard said he is looking for a new opportunity and a chance to win again in the NBA:

Eight-time NBA All-Star Dwight Howard told ESPN Thursday that he wants a buyout of his $23.8 million expiring contract, and sources said that his new team, the Brooklyn Nets, is trying to make it work.

“I want to be in a situation where I have an opportunity to help a team win,” Howard said in a phone interview. “That’s my only goal. All I need is a real chance and a clean slate where it’s not people talking about my past.”

Both sides agreed to work together on securing a buyout for the 6-foot-11, 265-pounder in order for the 32-year-old to hit free-agency this summer, sources said. Howard will ultimately be one of the top free-agent big men on the market and contending teams will have interest.

Howard said he was blindsided by the trade, a transaction that allowed Charlotte to distance itself from the tax line.

“I was just really in total shock because I wasn’t expecting it to happen,” he said. “I thought this season was really good. For one, this is the healthiest I’ve been and two, my stats this season has been one of the best since I’ve been in the NBA.”

A year ago yesterday, the Atlanta Hawks traded Howard to the Hornets for Miles Plumlee, Marco Belinelli and a swap of second-round picks — a trade that took place two days before the 2017 Draft. The trade the teams agreed to yesterday happened one day before the 2018 Draft.

Wednesday’s move allowed the Hornets to unload Howard’s contract and save about $7 million under this year’s salary cap, it is a bit of a gamble because Mozgov has two years remaining on his current contract at $16 million per year.

The Nets landed Mozgov last summer as a part of their trade for the Los Angeles’ Lakers D’Angelo Russell. In that deal, the Lakers sent Mozgov to Brooklyn for Brook Lopez and the rights to rookie Kyle Kuzma.

Howard’s most impressive game of the 2017-18 season came on March 21 (ironically enough, vs. Brooklyn), when he finished with 32 points and a career-high 30 rebounds in a comeback win against the Nets.

Last season, he ranked third in the NBA in rebounds per game (12.5), fourth in double-doubles (53), ninth in blocks (1.6) and 11th in field-goal percentage (55.5 percent). However, Howard struggled to mesh with Charlotte’s guards, and the Hornets failed to make the playoffs despite what former coach Steve Clifford considered the team’s most talented roster in half a decade.

Atlanta Hawks guard Kent Bazemore told Wojnarowski that he enjoyed playing with Howard during the 2016-17 season in Atlanta.

“Man, [Dwight’s] gotten so much of a bad rap, but he’s a great teammate,” Bazemore told ESPN. “For such a long season, his energy and his laughing helps you get through. And if you’re going through a tough stretch personally, it’s good to have that type of person around. Before he signed in Atlanta, there was all this bad stuff said about him. We had our press conference together, so we got to know each other well. I found that he has a good heart and he works hard every day to turn that perception around. I’d imagine it’s tough to continue hearing that stuff, but the things he did in the Atlanta community was amazing and he did it with a smile. That’s the kind of person he is and that’s who I know.”

Howard questions the motives of his detractors.

“I know a lot of people are going to always have questions and try to point it to one thing or the other, but a lot of times you always have to consider the source,” Howard said. “And when somebody always downplays another player, you have to check their character also. But there’s always going to be rumors. But on the flip side, when I was in Atlanta, I was considered the best teammate and I got the award for being the best teammate. I’ve always prided myself on treating people how I wanted to be treated.

“If you come into the locker room, I’m literally somebody that tries to bring joy in the locker room. I try to talk to everybody to get to know them more on a personal level. But I’m not somebody that goes around trying to destroy your team or the locker room because I want to win, but now that I’ve been traded, that seems like it’s a subject to get people to talk about that instead of the value that I bring to a team.”

After spending the first eight seasons of his career in Orlando, Howard has played for the Los Angeles Lakers (2012-13), the Houston Rockets (2013-16), the Hawks (2016-17) and the Hornets (2017-18) since then.

In the 2011-12 season, reports surfaced that Howard sought a trade to the Nets to play alongside All-Star Deron Williams and the rest of Brooklyn’s then-youthful crew. But that deal never materialized.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.