If Dwight Howard wasn't already going to opt out of the $23.2 million final year of his contract (he was), then the rumors that suggest Mike D'Antoni will be the next head coach of the Houston Rockets will be the final nail in the coffin of his third ugly-ending stint with an NBA team.
But before he officially leaves, Howard apparently wanted to take some parting shots at the organization. Specifically he called out general manager Daryl Morey. The 30-year-old center alleged that Morey told him the front office wanted to limit Dwight's role with the team.
"I felt like my role was being reduced," Howard told ESPN's Jack MacMullan. "I went to [Rockets general manager] Daryl [Morey] and said, 'I want to be more involved.' Daryl said, 'No, we don't want you to be.' My response was, 'Why not? Why am I here?' It was shocking to me that it came from him instead of our coach. So I said to him, 'No disrespect to what you do, but you've never played the game. I've been in this game a long time. I know what it takes to be effective.'''
Howard also explained that his limited status in the team's offense affected other parts of his game. And while he doesn't mention James Harden by name, it's not hard to imagine the Beard dribbling out a shot clock and pulling up for a contested fadeaway in Howard's head while he answered:
"My friends kept telling me, 'Even if you aren't getting shots, there are so many other things you can control while you are on the floor.' And they were right. I allowed not getting the ball to affect me. That's on me. As a big, someone who has been the focal point of the team, who is still young, who still has some great years in front of me, you run the floor, you sprint as hard as you can, you duck in, and still, you don't get the ball. It brings you down. It sucks the energy out of you. I had long conversations with people close to me who said, 'Dwight, this is going to make you look bad. Don't keep doing this.' So I listened to them.''
MacMullan then attempted to get Howard to describe his relationship with Harden. And while he technically responded, he didn't answer her question.
"Before I got to Houston, I didn't know him as a person. What made me really interested in James Harden was the way he attacked the basket when he was at OKC. He was the glue of the team, attacking, making plays, dunking. I was thinking, 'Man, this guy could be special.' When I hit free agency, I watched YouTube tapes of James for hours. I looked at us as a mini Shaq and Kobe. I was thinking, 'Man, this could be a new life for both of us.' And we had some good stretches together. Made it to the Conference finals last season.''
So she asked him again, "Your relationship with Harden seems to have deteriorated along with the team's performance this season. What happened?"
Still no answer, really. "I don't know. … I want to figure that out, too," Howard said. "I've been trying to wrap my mind around this season, what went wrong, and sometimes you can allow outside things to interrupt the circle. That probably happened with us.''
The big man has spent his offseason quickly attempting to rehabilitate his image ahead of free agency. Prior to the interview with MacMullan, Howard had a long, personable sitdown with the NBA on TNT crew, who forced the center to answer tough questions about himself.