The Atlanta Hawks had a busy free agency period as they re-signed forward Kent Bazemore to a four-year contract worth $70 million and Dwight Howard to a three-year deal for $70 million.
Both Howard and Bazemore were introduced in Atlanta on Wednesday. Howard, an Atlanta native, became emotional and cried during the press conference when he spoke about returning home and the impact on his family.
Superman managed to keep it light when the tears started flowing. He said: “This is a real new beginning for me, and I’m happy to share it with my loved ones…Oh boy, I know they’re gonna clown on me later. There’s gonna be some memes.”
A common theme for the 30 year old center was the idea of a fresh start. He spent the last three seasons in Houston with varying degrees of success.
Many media reports spoke of a rift forming between Howard and the Rockets’ All-Star guard, James Harden. The twelve-year veteran averaged just 13.7 points per game last season. That would be his lowest average since his rookie campaign.
On ESPN’s Mike & Mike, D12 admitted that his relationship with The Beard was slightly more strained than he felt it should have been.
He addressed his relationship with Harden: “It wasn’t as good as it needed to be for us to succeed. But, you know, looking back on it, there’s really nothing that we can do about it now.
“I wish the relationship would have been a lot better, but throughout all the things that happened the last couple of years, I think it’s shaped and molded me into the player – the person – that I am today. It made me stronger.”
The seasoned big man has returned home a different player than when he departed for Orlando as a teenager. He sees that things just didn’t work out for him in Clutch City and that a change was best for all parties involved.
Atlanta will be the beginning of a new stage of his career. Howard has even changed his number to eight as a nod to that change.
Maybe the change of scenery can return him to the kind of dominance that we are accustomed to seeing from the guy that they used to call Superman.