Dwight Howard initially wanted out of Atlanta after he was reduced to a mere spectator in the Hawks’ 4-2 series loss to the Washington wizards. According to KL Chouinard of NBA.com, Howard teased the idea of leaving the Hawks (via trade) during the morning shoot-around in Game 6 of that series. The former All-Star and All-NBA team member clearly expressed his frustrations over his reduced role in the Hawks’ offense and wanted to join a team where he can be a major contributor on that end of the floor.

Howard’s struggle

Howard, who signed a three-year, $70M contract with the Hawks last summer, had a solid 2016/17 regular-season where he averaged 13.5 points, 12.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 29 minutes per contest.

However, his playing time took a significant hit in the postseason, as the Wizards’ small=ball offense forced head coach Mike Budenholzer to play the same approach. Howard struggled most of the series, putting up just 8.0 ppg and 10.7 rpg in 26 mpg.

Hawks beat writer Da’Vonte Hughes of Soaring Down South believes Budenholzer should be accountable for not maximizing Howard’s strengths on the offensive end, claiming the Hawks’ coaching staff was clearly disinterested in making the big man a focal point in their offense. “The problem is, whenever Dwight has sealed off his man the ball doesn’t come his way. It appears that he is the last option on offense, even when he is the only clear option to score on some possessions,” Hughes noted.

The three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner has since softened his stance about leaving and is now looking forward to improving his game this off season for the sake of the team. “I want to be the best for my team and this city. This is why I came here,” Howard said of his renewed commitment with the Hawks.

Declining trade value hurts Hawks’ offseason plan

Ironically, trading Howard now would be unwise for the Hawks since his subpar performance in the playoffs hurt his trade value. Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders thinks the Hawks don’t have much ways to upgrade their lineup this offseason because of impending free-agency of Paul Millsap and Tim Hardaway Jr. and the decline in trade value of Howard and Kent Bazemore.

The Hawks reached the postseason for a 10th consecutive year, but only reached the Eastern Conference finals once during that span. Green added Atlanta should lay out their plan for the future and decide if they want to continue the cycle of first or second-round exits or push for a full rebuild.