John Wall is hopeful, but admits he "can't force" Dwight Howard to mature

Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards

The fall of Dwight Howard has been astounding to watch.

The 32-year-old center, eight-time All-Star and potential Hall of Famer was recently traded from the Charlotte Hornets to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Timofey Mozgov and the 45th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

New Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak recently claimed that trading Howard was the right move because he wouldn’t have gotten much playing time under new coach James Borrego’s up-tempo system. It's worth noting that Howard averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds in 30.4 minutes per game last season.

However, the Nets didn’t want him, either. Instead, they agreed to a buyout and will save roughly $17 million on the trade in the 2019-2020 season, which allows them to create two max-salary slots for next summer’s free agency period, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Once he clears waivers, Howard is expected to sign with the Washington Wizards, technically his fifth team in three years, after going from the Houston Rockets to the Atlanta Hawks to Charlotte to Brooklyn to Washington.

Since the Wizards traded Marcin Gortat for Austin Rivers last month, the starting center spot opened up, and so did an opportunity for Howard to turn around his career.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Charlotte Hornets

Perhaps Howard’s final chance

On paper, the fit makes sense. In fact, John Wall indicated that Howard had interest in being his teammate for a while.

“Before when we used to play, he was always like: ‘I want to play with you,’ ” Wall recalled, per Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. “I’m like … ‘one day maybe it can happen. You never know in this league.’ ”

Overall, Wall thinks Howard will be a great fit.

Charlotte Hornets v Brooklyn Nets

“I think it’s great,” Wall said, sharing his initial thoughts about the Wizards landing Howard. “I think it’s an opportunity to see how it pans out, to have an athletic big and somebody who’s going to re-correct their career. I think it should be fun and exciting for us.”

Since Wall is deadly as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, Howard should thrive from high-percentage looks at and around the rim. But, like always, Howard's emotions and demeanor will continue to be a talking point moving forward.

“Hopefully he comes in with a serious focus and mind-set (that) he wants to get better and help our team,” Wall said.

Overall, Howard’s ability to rebound the ball and serve as a rim protector should also help Washington in the post-LeBron Eastern Conference that’s seemingly filled with opportunities.

“It’s a perfect opportunity. I mean, LeBron [James] left the East. I think he makes our team even more deeper and better and gives us somebody that’s hard to switch,” Wall said. “If you’re trying to switch one through five, you got to worry about him catching lobs, getting offensive rebounds. I think he’s trying to have an opportunity to change the perception people have of him: he’s always joking around, [people say] he has a negative image in the league after he left Orlando.”

Orlando Magic v Charlotte Hornets

Most of all, Wall will look for the 32-year-old center to behave with constant maturity, which is not something that he’s been able to do throughout the course of his career.

“I can’t force him. He has to want to be able to change on his own,” Wall noted. “But I think he just helps our team and that’s why he was probably the best center we could probably get at the time for our team.”

If he commits himself to playing alongside Wall, Bradley Beal and company, there’s no limit to how far the team can go. 

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