It doesn't look like Dwight Howard's tenure with the Houston Rockets is about to end on good terms.
Even though the three-time Defensive Player of the Year is technically still under contract and has yet to officially opt out of his current deal to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, in a recent Q&A with ESPN's Jackie MacMullan, Howard decided to reveal why he was unhappy throughout most of last season: (via ESPN):
Howard: "I felt like my role was being reduced. I went to [Rockets general manager] Daryl [Morey] and said, 'I want to be more involved.' Daryl said, 'No, we don't want you to be.' My response was, 'Why not? Why am I here?' It was shocking to me that it came from him instead of our coach. So I said to him, 'No disrespect to what you do, but you've never played the game. I've been in this game a long time. I know what it takes to be effective.'''
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The entire interview is well worth a read, but this specific anecdote stands out from just about everything else.
Howard shot a career-high 62 percent from the floor this season, but averaged the fewest number of shots since he was a rookie. His defense wasn't quite as great as it's previously been, but he played hard, maintained his efficiency and did work on the glass.
Dwight Howard low key underrated in the post. He's just so dominant. Keem and Shaq never did this. pic.twitter.com/wvlES79OSE— Per Sources Sports (@PerSources14) April 28, 2016
It's understandable for a one-time superstar in the twilight of his prime (in possibly the final season of his contract) to question why his role is being reduced, especially when it doesn't even lead to winning basketball. The Rockets weren't wrong to lessen Howard's post touches, but repeatedly ignoring a big guy who fights for position and is deep enough to, at the very least, draw a foul, is problematic.
As if it weren't clear already, this interview is the strongest sign to date that Howard's days with the Rockets are almost definitely over.