At one point in the late 2000s, Dwight Howard was a household name and one of the most dominant players in the NBA. He was arguably the best defender in basketball, quick enough to handle guards and plenty strong to manhandle bigs. But after a stellar decade, Howard’s luster began to dim, became a journeyman, a minimum contract guy, and was ultimately shown the door in the NBA. What happened to NBA veteran Dwight Howard? Has he already retired?
Who is Dwight Howard?
Unless you just watched basketball a couple of years ago, every basketball fan knows who Dwight Howard is. His body of work speaks for itself: Olympic gold medalist, 5-time First Team All-NBA, 8-time NBA All-Star, and 3-time Defensive Player of the Year.
Here is a more in-depth overview of his stellar NBA career:
Overview of His NBA Career
Drafted first overall in 2004 straight out of high school by the Orlando Magic, Howard was a physical specimen. He was 6-foot-10 and 240 pounds of pure muscle with a 40-inch vertical at 18 years old!
Howard established himself as a double-double machine early on. He averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds, plus 1.7 blocks in his rookie year. That proved inadequate for a Rookie of the Year nod, which goes to Emeka Okafor.
However, in his second season, Howard began to morph into a different type of monster. He packed 20 more pounds of muscle into his frame and improved tremendously on defense. Howard did not become an All-Star until 2007 when he averaged 17.6 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks on 60% shooting from the floor. By then, everyone knew he was a problem.
Since then, Howard has made seven more All-Star and eight All-NBA teams. He won three straight DPOYs from 2009 to 2011. Howard’s Magic squads experienced considerable success in the playoffs and made the NBA Finals in 2010. It was a hell of a run by Howard and Co., eliminating LeBron James in the Conference Finals and playing a hell of a Finals series against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.
But, as they say, all good things must come to an end. Howard was dissatisfied with how the front office was building the team and made it clear he wanted out if he didn’t see any improvements. He was eventually traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2012 to team up with Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. The experiment failed miserably, even at the cost of Bryant’s health.
The season after Los Angeles was the beginning of the end for Howard. He was still a physical presence in Houston, but his discontent caused frustration and tension throughout the locker room. After three seasons with H-Town, he bounced to Atlanta, Charlotte, and Washington.
From there, he was relegated to a one-year minimum contract type of guy. He had another stint with the Lakers, where he was a part of the 2020 championship team, and then took a stop at Philadelphia. In a move that proved the third time’s not a charm, he returned with the Purple and Gold in 2021-22, his last NBA season.
Dwight Howard’s trophy case is probably chock-full of awards, but he wasn’t a perfect basketball player. He hasn’t quite developed a reliable back-to-the-basket game and could be too physical for his own good.
With that being said, it’s a travesty leaving him outside the Top 75 player of all time list just because he wasn’t as likable as Damian Lillard or Anthony Davis. After all, he was the only player to win DPOY three consecutive times.
What Teams Did Dwight Howard Plays For?
This is the whole list of Dwight Howard teams he played for:
- Orlando Magic (2004-2012)
- Los Angeles Lakers (2012-13, 2019-20, 2021-22)
- Houston Rockets (2013-2016)
- Atlanta Hawks (2016-17)
- Charlotte Hornets (2017-18)
- Washington Wizards (2018-19)
Howard called Orlando home for the longest time, and this is where he won most of his hardware. His Lakers tenure was a mixed bag, but he was a big part of the 2020 championship team, especially when matched up with bigger players.
However, if you have followed Howard in Charlotte and Atlanta, he was still regularly putting up huge double-doubles there.
What Happened to Dwight Howard in the NBA?
Howard was one of the premier bigs in the NBA for a long time and by a wide margin. But because of his messy divorce with the Magic, his reputation suffered. He was viewed as a locker room cancer who wanted a starring role he couldn’t live up to.
In the latter part of his career, that changed. He accepted a bench role in Los Angeles and flourished in it. Howard was a per-minute monster and still had defensive chops, all of which came in handy in the playoffs. Unsurprisingly, the group went on to win the championship.
What is Dwight Howard Doing Now?
Is Dwight Howard retired now? Well, it may be over for him in the NBA, but basketball is everywhere. He had plans to pursue a WWE career, but Taiwan came calling. He is now playing for the Taoyuan Leopards in the T1 League. Dwight Howard’s Taiwan contract is said to be $1 million for the season in a league where the standard salary is $20,000 monthly. The team decided Howard was worth it for all the publicity he brings.
While Howard took his talents to Taiwan, former NBA players who have no current teams are not really looking in that direction. Several Taiwanese teams have reportedly pursued Carmelo Anthony, DeMarcus Cousins, and Isaiah Thomas, but the ex-NBA All-Stars have no interest.
As for his professional wrestling career, that may have to be put on hold as long as basketball offers are coming D12’s way, whether from Taiwan or anywhere else. Dwight Howard’s retirement endeavors are indeed worthy of following.
Dwight Howard’s Career Earnings
As one of the best players in the NBA, Howard has commanded hefty sums himself in his contracts. He has made over $248.8 million in 18 seasons, not to mention shoe endorsements from Adidas and Peak.
Howard’s biggest contract signed was a four-year, $87.5 million deal with the Houston Rockets in 2013. That puts his annual salary at over $21 million. His deal with the Atlanta Hawks wasn’t so bad either; he commanded $70.5 million over three years, translating to an annual salary of $23.5 million.
Wrapping Things Up: What Happened to NBA Veteran Dwight Howard?
There was once a time when Dwight Howard was a household name and rivaled LeBron James in terms of popularity. You don’t believe it? Well, the guy was the leading All-Star vote-getter in 2009, with over three million votes. His star and reputation noticeably dimmed after he requested trades from one franchise to another.
Despite being a superstar, he remained among the biggest What-ifs in the history of the NBA. What if he decided to co-exist with Kobe Bryant or James Harden? What if he chose to stay in Orlando? What if he took his low post game seriously? Nobody knows for sure unless there is an alternate universe out there.
So, what happened to NBA veteran Dwight Howard after all the drama in his career? To his credit, he did his best to repair his soured notoriety by accepting lesser roles. That eventually led to a championship for the Lakers in 2020. However, two seasons later, he was out in the NBA and is now playing in Taiwan. Howard appears to be having the time of his life in East Asia, and that’s the most important thing.
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