On Tuesday, Dwight Howard officially signed his new deal with the Atlanta Hawks for $70.5 million over three years. The Hawks have had an eventful offseason this summer with the acquisition of Howard and the subsequent loss of Al Horford among other transactions.
Howard, who said that he lost some confidence after his departure from Houston, said that his former teammate and minority owner of the Hawks, Grant Hill, had a lot to do with his choice to come to Atlanta.
“After the season, I was a little bit down for a couple days,” Howard told ESPN. “For somebody like [Hill] to believe in me, GM Wes Wilcox and Coach Bud — for all of these guys to have that belief in me just gave me more confidence.”
On the other hand, the Hawks weren’t able to keep Horford, who signed a max contract with the Celtics. Horford said in an interview with the AJC that the decision to leave had more to do with money than basketball and that he liked Howard as a player.
“It has nothing to do with not wanting to play with Dwight,” Horford told the AJC. “I don’t know if you remember but there was a time when I wanted to play power forward.”
Horford also told the AJC that he was upset after a report came out that he left Atlanta because he didn’t like the fans.
“I was angry when I heard about that because I never felt that way,” Horford said. “I’ve always been very content and happy with the way they’ve treated me and my family.”
The Hawks also lost all-star point guard Jeff Teague this offseason after he was traded to Indiana. Teague recently cut all ties with Atlanta after he sold his $1.9 million penthouse in Buckhead meaning that the Dennis Schroder era will begin for the Hawks.
Schroder will have shooting guard Kent Bazemore back with him in the backcourt. Bazemore signed a four year, $70 million contract with Atlanta earlier this summer. Bazemore, who averaged 11.6 points per game last season, should provide some offense and high energy defense for the Hawks if he keeps improving like he did last season.
During the draft, the Hawks picked up a shooting guard and a couple of small forwards including DeAndre Bembry who has averaged 10 points and almost five rebounds during his four summer league games. Bembry will be competing with his fellow rookie, Taureen Prince, for playing time come October.
Some of the Hawks’ free agent signings have flown under the radar this summer because of the pursuit of Howard and the attempt to keep Horford.
Atlanta re-signed center Kris Humphries to a one year, $4 million contract. Humphries came in to help last season after Tiago Splitter suffered a season ending hip injury.
The Hawks also signed point guard Malcolm Delaney to a two year deal. Delaney, who has spent the last five seasons playing with various teams in Europe, said that he’s happy that the Hawks believed in him.
“When I was in Europe, I was just focused on trying to be the best player over there,” Delaney told the AJC. “I just work hard so now it makes me appreciate it a little bit more, having a team really believe in me and actually want me to come in an contribute to the team.”
Former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket Jarrett Jack will be returning home to Atlanta for next year after the Hawks signed him to a one-year contract. Jack, who led Tech to an appearance in the NCAA National Championship during his sophomore year, played with Brooklyn last season before having season ending knee surgery in January.
The Hawks also re-signed fan-favorite bench player Mike Muscala.
Fans are waiting anxiously to see if Howard will be able to take the Hawks farther in the playoffs than Horford was able to in recent years. If Howard plays the way he did during his time with the Magic, Hawks fans will be pleased for years to come.