On the eve of the 2018 NBA Draft, the Brooklyn Nets made quite the splash as they acquired veteran center Dwight Howard from the Charlotte Hornets for Timofey Mozgov, two future second-round draft picks and cash, as first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The two draft picks headed to Charlotte will be the No. 45 selection in Thursday night’s draft and one in 2021, but the trade won’t be made official until the league’s moratorium period ends on Jul. 6. It is only until then the Nets will have enough money to take on Howard’s sizeable contract, which ends at the end of this season and is worth $23.8 million.
At 32 years old, Howard’s best days have been behind him for quite some time, but he went through a semi-resurgence during his lone season with Charlotte, posting 16.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Those were his best numbers since his first year with the Houston Rockets in 2013-14.
He’ll immediately become the Nets’ starting center as he can be a veteran presence that can help develop second-year man Jarrett Allen and Jahlil Okafor, who is still just 22 years old despite preparing for his fourth professional season.
Brooklyn is also able to get the contract of Mozgov off its books as he is owed $32.7 million over the next two years. While it doesn’t seem like much compared to some of the mega deals the league has seen over the past few seasons, it helps the Nets save $17 million in the 2019-20 season, which will allow them two max-salary contract spots during the highly-anticipated 2019 free agency period which could include big names like Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson.
The Nets have been irrelevant in a weak Eastern Conference over the past three seasons, not winning more than 28 games. Much of it has to do with the lasting effects of the 2013 trade with the Boston Celtics that saw Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry basically gut the franchise of all future assets. Brooklyn finally has its own first-round pick in 2019 which is the first time that’s happened since 2013.