The Charlotte Hornets failed to make the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference a season ago.
A lot of that had to do with their depth at center, which is why the team landed Dwight Howard in a trade with the Atlanta Hawks this summer.
With last year’s starting center, Cody Zeller, in the lineup, the team was a solid 33-29. Without Zeller, Charlotte was miserable: 3-17.
Now that they have both Howard and Zeller, they shan’t go wanting for center production again.
There’s just one problem: Howard has played on four NBA teams—the Orlando Magic, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Houston Rockets, and the Hawks—and each one of them could not wait to get him the hell out of town.
On podcast The Lowe Post, NBA writers Zach Lowe and Kevin Arnovitz discussed just how despised Howard was in the Atlanta locker room before they dumped him in Charlotte.
Lowe: I don’t know what it is. No one has kind of gotten to the bottom of why. It can’t just be the corny jokes—and my god, does he tell the corniest jokes—but I’ve heard multiple stories of Hawks players learning about the trade and screaming with jubilation into their phones.
Lowe: You ask why, and one account was, like, Dwight would give these speeches before the game about how everyone is playing hard, we want unity, we’re going to … and then go out and play like a blah game where he demands post touches and doesn’t rotate as hard as he could. And everyone is like, “Why are you speaking in the locker room?” But that’s all anecdotal. It’s just crazy how these stories come out after every stop in his career.
Arnovitz also pointed out that Howard’s dislikability was so considerable, it had teammates taking the side of the also-unenjoyable Dennis Schröeder, the Hawks’ starting point guard.
“As one person inside the locker room told me, ‘Do you know how hard it is to make Dennis Schröeder the good guy in an internecine warfare between players?'” Arnovitz added. “Do you know how hard it is to have a locker room pro-Dennis in terms of just mood and personality? And, you know, that lasted two or three good weeks and then Dwight was just kvetching about not getting the ball. … Everyone has this impression of ‘Oh, it’s the goofiness and the fart jokes and everything else,’ and actually, no, I think—he’s a downer.”
The Hornets have the talent, particularly on defense, to amass a win total in the mid- to high-40s. And head coach Steve Clifford, who was Howard’s assistant coach for six years in Orlando and LA, seems confident he can reach the 31-year-old center.
But considering how he’s been received at every other stop in his NBA career, and how he and Zeller already don’t have the rosiest of relationships, don’t be surprised if this team implodes before the All-Star break.