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Josh Howard hopes to play again for Wizards

After leading the Washington Wizards to a shocking 10-point victory over the Denver Nuggets nearly three weeks ago, Josh Howard reached into his locker room stall and picked up an all-white Washington Nationals baseball cap. Howard then explained how much he liked the curly W logo and that he had bought a few hats in different colors long before the Dallas Mavericks made him a District resident in a trade deadline deal.

"I got a whole bunch of these," Howard said, flashing his crooked grin as he twisted the slightly oversize cap around his head. "You'll see."

Howard had hoped to make wins and his assortment of Nats hats a regular post-game sight, but that was the last time he would play a game at Verizon Center and leave the court without assistance.

Howard's season came to an end just two games later on Feb. 22, when his left knee bent awkwardly while receiving an outlet pass from Mike Miller in the first quarter of a 101-95 win over Chicago. He said he immediately knew "something wasn't right" but didn't find out until a day later that he had torn his anterior cruciate ligament.


"It was devastating," said Howard. "No guy wants to find out they're not going to finish out the season. I had high expectations of taking this team to the playoffs, which I thought we was on our way, too. It was an unfortunate situation to happen."

Howard was the main acquisition, from a talent and financial perspective, when the Wizards made their roster overhaul last month. The Wizards had no intention of picking the one-time all-star 's $11.8 million option next season, even before the knee injury. The team began touting the salary cap flexibility provided by his expiring contract immediately after acquiring him from Dallas for Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson.

But according to two sources with knowledge of the Wizards' thinking, the team is considering re-signing Howard, albeit a price less than his option when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. The sources were encouraged with Howard, who averaged 14.5 points and 3.3 rebounds and brought a positive attitude and enthusiasm to a locker room in desperate need of a jolt. Howard said he would like to return to Washington next season, citing the Wizards' two first-round picks and significant cap room this summer.

"I feel like I'm in a good place right here in Washington if they give me a shot. Great city, fans support. Another top-notch organization. Can't beat it. And I'm close to home," said Howard, a North Carolina native. The Wizards "gave me a fresh start. Being able to come to an organization that's great, leaving another great one where I learned a lot. I'm hoping that I can still teach people what I learned there."

Howard added that he is not concerned about joining a rebuilding situation with the Wizards. "Not at all. I had my opportunities to go through rebuilding before, in college [at Wake Forest]. It's nothing new to me. I'm looking forward to the challenge, if it's for me," he said. "You never know. Just got to wait and see. One way or another, I'm going to try to play somewhere, if not here, somewhere. It's up in the air right now.

"I guess we'll wait until after the season is over," he said. "Right now, that's not something I'm concerned about. Right now, my No. 1 focus is this knee."

Howard said he still has not set a date for surgery, with the swelling in his left knee yet to subside enough. He shows up at Verizon Center for rehabilitation and to receive treatment for nearly two hours each day and is still able to maneuver with the assistance of a bulky brace, which he masked Thursday under a pair of bagging sweatpants.

Howard, 29, said he had never had any knee problems before. The timetable for his return after the surgery is six to nine months. "But I'm super athlete, hopefully I'll be back soon," he said. "I'm ahead of schedule, I guess. You don't see me with a crutch right now."

Howard went back to Dallas shortly after suffering his injury to have a brief visit with his young son. But he has been around at most games and practices, offering words of encouragement to James Singleton, who also arrived in the deal with the Mavericks.

"I ain't going nowhere," Howard said with a laugh.

After going 3-1 with Howard in the lineup, the Wizards have lost six of seven games without Howard. "They're still playing hard," he said. "Sometimes we have a little brain freeze. Had some lapses where we can't score at the right, but other than that, they're still bringing that energy."

Howard said he wishes he could help, then shrugged. "Things just unfortunately happened. Can't control it, just hope to get better and come back better next year."

By Michael Lee  |  March 11, 2010; 2:34 PM ET
 | Tags: josh howard, washington wizards  
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Next: Arenas plans to go from No. 0 to No. 6

Comments

Love the confidence Josh. Stay humble and work hard.

Ernie should fetch him this summer with a 2 year deal between 4 & 5 million.

Posted by: elfreako | March 11, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

hopefully by then Leonsis will own the team and Grunfeld will be retired on a beach.

Posted by: leopard09 | March 11, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

How does
PG: Joe Johnson
SG: Gilbert Arenas
SF: Josh Howard
PF: Andre Blatche
C: McGee

sound?

Thornton, Singleton, and Rudy Gay off the bench

Posted by: jefferu | March 11, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

How does
PG: Joe Johnson
SG: Gilbert Arenas
SF: Josh Howard
PF: Andre Blatche
C: McGee
===============================

Um...what? Joe Johnson can't run the point...

Posted by: arizona4 | March 11, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

How does
PG: Joe Johnson
SG: Gilbert Arenas
SF: Josh Howard
PF: Andre Blatche
C: McGee

sound?

Sounds good. I don't want McGee as my center though.

Posted by: thecomedian1 | March 11, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

I see Johnson's name thrown around a lot... What about Rudy Gay? He's 5 years younger and putting up similar numbers and will most likely be more available and cheeper. You gotta love the length of:

Mcgee
Blatche
Gay
Harrington

with possibly miller and Howard off the bench

Posted by: Wizterps | March 11, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Um...what? Joe Johnson can't run the point...

Posted by: arizona4 | March 11, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse
JJ has run the point several times in his career. in fact he was brought to Atl as their pg.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | March 11, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like you don't have much of a defense.

Posted by: I_can_fly | March 11, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

with our draft pick, if we can't get wall or turner, i think we should get either DeMarcus Cousins out of Kentucky or Cole Aldrich out of Kansas

mcgee and this pick would push each other for starter and would be good young guys to have at C

PF is set, SF could use one more player outta FA, SG and PG need probably 2-3 additions, howard should be given a look at SF/SG, it'd be interesting to take a chance on grevius vazquez outta maryland w/ our late first rounder, he may be a lil too cocky for his own good, but that fire might be something that has been lacking in washington, plus, im sure there are a decent number of fans who would love seeing a terp stay in the area

that would mean

C: McGee/Lottery Pick
PF: Blache/Singleton (must resign)
SF: Thornton/FA
SG: Two FAs
PG: Arenas/Vazquez

i dont think this is the offseason to go after a max player, no reason to shoot ourselves in the foot financially so soon after dumping salary, lets make sure the other pieces fit before taking that chance

Posted by: hb_321 | March 11, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

How does
PG: Joe Johnson
SG: Gilbert Arenas
SF: Josh Howard
PF: Andre Blatche
C: McGee

sound?

Thornton, Singleton, and Rudy Gay off the bench

Posted by: jefferu | March 11, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like a train wreck

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | March 11, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Who doesn't want to play for an NBA team when their contract expires after this season?

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | March 11, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

How does
PG: Joe Johnson
SG: Gilbert Arenas
SF: Josh Howard
PF: Andre Blatche
C: McGee

sound?

Thornton, Singleton, and Rudy Gay off the bench

Posted by: jefferu | March 11, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like a train wreck

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | March 11, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Why would Johnson run the point with that personel?
Why would Howard start with a bad knee?
Why would Gay be on the bench?
How in the hell do you afford all of those players?

Posted by: Wizterps | March 11, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

How does
PG: Joe Johnson
SG: Gilbert Arenas
SF: Josh Howard
PF: Andre Blatche
C: McGee

sound?

Thornton, Singleton, and Rudy Gay off the bench

Posted by: jefferu | March 11, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like a train wreck

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | March 11, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

how does Josh Howard come back from the shredded knee in 7 mos to put Rudy Gay; who would be like our second biggest FA move ever, on the bench? Sounds silly to me.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | March 11, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

didn't mean to copycat ya Wizterps. i hadn't read your post yet. i don't think the money is that far off though. I'd imagine that JJ and RG could cost us what we were paying for AJ and CB. No foye,miller,boykins,OLDberto,ross and that books next year will help out a lotin that respect. I think the bigger question is What serious NBA star FA is gonna come here?

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | March 11, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

with our draft pick, if we can't get wall or turner, i think we should get either DeMarcus Cousins out of Kentucky or Cole Aldrich out of Kansas

mcgee and this pick would push each other for starter and would be good young guys to have at C

PF is set, SF could use one more player outta FA, SG and PG need probably 2-3 additions, howard should be given a look at SF/SG, it'd be interesting to take a chance on grevius vazquez outta maryland w/ our late first rounder, he may be a lil too cocky for his own good, but that fire might be something that has been lacking in washington, plus, im sure there are a decent number of fans who would love seeing a terp stay in the area

that would mean

C: McGee/Lottery Pick
PF: Blache/Singleton (must resign)
SF: Thornton/FA
SG: Two FAs
PG: Arenas/Vazquez

i dont think this is the offseason to go after a max player, no reason to shoot ourselves in the foot financially so soon after dumping salary, lets make sure the other pieces fit before taking that chance

Posted by: hb_321 | March 11, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse
I like what you put but do not plan on Arenas. arenas + this young team means 35 shoots a game for GA with maximum 41 % made.
we need to get back roger mason as a starting SG for both NY and AF to come from bench, NY can take some minutes from SF position.If rudy is not going to take the 50 million offer from his team give him 55, he is young, not a proto type defender but good player.other than him it is not good to rush to get a super star level player before we deal with GA situation and with out a stable foundation.
The best is to pick the 1st 2 positions, you never know john wall might take us to play of next year.

Posted by: gtefferra | March 11, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Yeah I was thinking that the bench would be made up of the usual suspects. You would probably have to overpay to land both of them so I think that they would cost more but maybe not much. I would really like to see us sign Gay. I think he could be ready to break out and its easy to forget he is only 23. When all is said and done though I think Mcgee's development is the key to this team (which is kind of scary!) lol

Posted by: Wizterps | March 11, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

with our draft pick, if we can't get wall or turner, i think we should get either DeMarcus Cousins out of Kentucky or Cole Aldrich out of Kansas

mcgee and this pick would push each other for starter and would be good young guys to have at C

PF is set, SF could use one more player outta FA, SG and PG need probably 2-3 additions, howard should be given a look at SF/SG, it'd be interesting to take a chance on grevius vazquez outta maryland w/ our late first rounder, he may be a lil too cocky for his own good, but that fire might be something that has been lacking in washington, plus, im sure there are a decent number of fans who would love seeing a terp stay in the area

that would mean

C: McGee/Lottery Pick
PF: Blache/Singleton (must resign)
SF: Thornton/FA
SG: Two FAs
PG: Arenas/Vazquez

i dont think this is the offseason to go after a max player, no reason to shoot ourselves in the foot financially so soon after dumping salary, lets make sure the other pieces fit before taking that chance

Posted by: hb_321 | March 11, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse
Every body except kobe will go any where they get paid and/or have a chance to win.
we do not need JJ he is too expensive and old.

Posted by: gtefferra | March 11, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

joe johnson is gonna cost us the rest of our cap room...rudy gay while is a good player...he will be overpaid this summer...only way we would be able to get him is with a sign and trade....atl is number 2 in the east...i doubt jj is leaving atl...again i would love to see jj here...i am a huge fan of his game...but its highly doubtful he or anyone else comes here this summer

Posted by: jasonma1 | March 11, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

How does PG: Joe Johnson SG: Gilbert Arenas SF: Josh Howard PF: Andre Blatche C: McGee

sound?

Sounds like they brew the kool-aid strong in your neighborhood.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 11, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

I like what you put but do not plan on Arenas. arenas + this young team means 35 shoots a game for GA with maximum 41 % made.
we need to get back roger mason as a starting SG for both NY and AF to come from bench, NY can take some minutes from SF position.If rudy is not going to take the 50 million offer from his team give him 55, he is young, not a proto type defender but good player.other than him it is not good to rush to get a super star level player before we deal with GA situation and with out a stable foundation.
The best is to pick the 1st 2 positions, you never know john wall might take us to play of next year.

Posted by: gtefferra | March 11, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

35 shots at a 41% clip, that's 14 shots per game, which comes up to 28+ ppg not including free throws. You wouldn't like that?i see what you're saying, but i seriously doubt that's what he would come in doing. Gil is a chucker but even if he were shooting for the scoring title i think he'd take less than 35 shots. There will be young talent on this team next season.Players that are hungry and not so content to watch Gil play one on one while they wait,palms up, at their "sweet spot". Gil avg'd 7 assts per game before the gunfight. give the guy a chance to make a full comeback (on the court). if you have off the court issues with Gil(gun battle) or genral hate in your blood (100M contract) that's cool we don't have to argue about that non hoop related stuff. But at least acknowledge that just before his suspension Gil was making strides towards finishing this season looking healthy. i don't see how it's even a question whether or not to bring him back. Gil woulda ate BJ's cookies in MIL and at Home. instead we got foye and earl the two scaredest dribblers and worst playmaking guards in the world and . foye wouldn't drive if his wife was in labor, and Punxatawney Earl can't see over the defender's shadow to pass the rock.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | March 11, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

foye wouldn't drive if his wife was in labor

HAHA...thats a good one!

Posted by: jasonma1 | March 11, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Gil
NY
AT
AB
JM

competitive starting 5 all currently under contract. Assuming Gil comes back, the biggest question (other than is he rusted for good) is whether he can be a guy who ISNT taking 20shots a night like he was this year. Given the handles on Thornton and NY, Arenas would have to dominate the ball (like always) and could easily slip into "takeover" mode. Unfortunately that gear is long gone.

We shall see

Posted by: divi3 | March 11, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

5 shots at a 41% clip, that's 14 shots per game, which comes up to 28+ ppg not including free throws. You wouldn't like that?i see what you're saying, but i seriously doubt that's what he would come in doing. Gil is a chucker but even if he were shooting for the scoring title i think he'd take less than 35 shots. There will be young talent on this team next season.Players that are hungry and not so content to watch Gil play one on one while they wait,palms up, at their "sweet spot". Gil avg'd 7 assts per game before the gunfight. give the guy a chance to make a full comeback (on the court). if you have off the court issues with Gil(gun battle) or genral hate in your blood (100M contract) that's cool we don't have to argue about that non hoop related stuff. But at least acknowledge that just before his suspension Gil was making strides towards finishing this season looking healthy. i don't see how it's even a question whether or not to bring him back. Gil woulda ate BJ's cookies in MIL and at Home. instead we got foye and earl the two scaredest dribblers and worst playmaking guards in the world and . foye wouldn't drive if his wife was in labor, and Punxatawney Earl can't see over the defender's shadow to pass the rock.

lilhollywood10, I couldn't have said it better... Arenas can be a top player in the league and hes proved it with his game. Didn't he have 14 or 15 assists that last game he played at philly?

Arenas haters need to learn how the game is played.

Posted by: crisco00786 | March 11, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

It would be too bad to lose Howard if only because the Nats will lose one of their two or three fans.

Posted by: rodeorob | March 11, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Apparently he wore out his welcome in Dallas, but everything he has said and done here has made me like him very much. I would take him back at a discount in a heartbeat. Probably would miss the first month or so of the season, but so what if it's the right price.

Howard, Blatche, GA assuming he is back for at least a season, Foye as a role player, lottery pick, Thornton, McGee, and perhaps a mid level free agent signing or two is not a terrible team. Maybe even one that can sneak in the playoffs and a lineup that is a real possibility rather than a pipe dream.

Posted by: rphilli721 | March 11, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

"I see what both you are divi3 are saying, rphilli721.
I'm on the NY side of the fence only because he cannot possibly be worse than MM or Foye. We need to fish or cut bait with him. In ANOTHER wasted season like this one, why not establish a role for him and give him a set # of minutes over an extended period so that we can evaluate him?

Guarantee that if AB wasnt forced to start, ppl would be saying the same things about him. Matter of fact, THEY WERE.
NY may not be a star but I believe that a lot of his issues are directly related to his inconsistent minutes and undefined role. Make him the 6th man and give him his 12 shots per game. If he's hot, ride him. If not, can he do any less than Miller in 6th-man-minutes?"

Again, I don't care if he gets mins at this point or not. Can't really hurt, but the fact that he isn't should tell you more about NY than the coaching ability of a proven NBA coach. Maybe he knows or sees all he needs to about NY. He isn't the first coach either. At some point, you guys have to stop making excuses for NY. And don't imply that his mins are the reason he is a not a reliable NBA role player.

As for Blatche, he is a big for one and they always get more opportunities. And he brings more to the game than just shots. He can pass, rebound, play a little defense, and shoot. His basketball IQ has always been way above NY's although at times he was inconsistent and immature as well. Blatche also came from HS. NY had two or three years at USC and has yet to mature or grow in the NBA.

Posted by: rphilli721 | March 11, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

@rphilli what does the team's record and the manner in which they lose games tell you about this proven NBA coach who was relieved of his duties twice by contenders he couldn't get over the hump. Listen Flip ain't POP,JAX,or even Sloan (no chip). He's not even Larry Brown, more like Mike Brown riding the coat tails of a NBA top 50 player and once in a lifetime phenom deep into the playoffs and winning nada. what about flip saunder's coaching performance has impressed you rphilli? we never talk about that. It's just that he's "proven" then we pull out the resume`. what is he doing well this year. We always talk about the players and their faults and how they do this or don't do that. Tell me what Flip is doing good for us.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | March 11, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Harder to evaluate what a coach is or isn't doing well, because we don't know what he's telling the players to do and whether or not they are trying to do it.

Phil Jackson is no question a great coach, but has he ever won anything without at least one of the NBA's top 50 on his team? Even in his years without MJ, he still had Pippen. Flip has Garnett and precious little else for most of his time in Minnesota. The one year where he had the horses (Cassell and Sprewell) they made it to the conference finals.

Plus, even in hoops, I like to give coaches more than a year to establish their systems and prove their mettle. Not saying Flip is necessarily doing a great job, I don't always understand his substitutions, but he's also playing the hand he was dealt.

Posted by: ts35 | March 11, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

I really like josh howard's attitude. We're not going to hear a lot of people talk with that enthusiasm. It's the kind of attitude I'd want in our locker room. Hopefully he keeps that focus. Resign him.

Posted by: crs-1 | March 11, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

some thoughts on future signings...

1. Joe Johnson. first, he's not a PG. he can handle the ball fine for a SG, but he's not even a combo guard. second, he's not coming to DC. he was offered a max extension last summer and declined. he wants to go where he has the best chance to contend. if he can't find a better opportunity, he'll just re-up with Atlanta, who will likely offer him the max again this summer.

2. Rudy Gay. he won't be cheap. he's a restricted FA and if any team wants a chance to sign him away from Memphis, they will likely have to offer him the max or something very close to it. If you offer him something in the $11 mil/year range, Memphis will match it. I suspect he'll sign a max offer sheet somewhere given the number of teams that will have money.

3. DeMarcus Cousins. I think he's got a lot of potential, but I think he needs to be in a different situation to realize it. If he doesn't go to a team with a strong coach and a solid veteran presence, it could take a while to hone his game. Of the teams who could be picking high, I think he'd have the best chance for success in Utah. In Washington, he'll be surrounded by guys who still need to mature....don't like that for him.

4. Wall or Turner would be ideal for this team. pray for those ping pong balls to bounce the right way.

5. The Wiz need to send a trainer home with McGee and with Blatche. Both have a lot of talent. Blatche is further developed in his understanding of the game, but he could still be more. McGee needs to add another 15-20 pounds of muscle this offseason so he isn't pushed around so much. Then he needs to watch a lot of game film so he has a better understanding of what is going on around him (like the play where Horford slipped behind him at a crucial point in the 4th Q tonight).

6. Josh Howard is a health risk (even before the knee injury), but if you trust him to recover, he'd be a nice signee. Of course, he'll probably be looking for something like the contracts that Charlie V and Marvin Williams signed this past offseason (5 years, $40ish mil...maybe a little more). That's a pretty big commitment to a guy who hasn't stayed healthy the last 2 years, will be coming off a major knee injury, and has had some off-the-court issues. He's saying the right things now...maybe its real, but maybe its to help ensure a nice contract.

Posted by: hunter111 | March 11, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

@ts35
what does flip do that has impressed you though?

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | March 11, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Why would Johnson run the point with that personel?
Why would Howard start with a bad knee?
Why would Gay be on the bench?
How in the hell do you afford all of those players?

Wizterp-this was the funniest response I've every seen on hear...I laughed for like 10mins on this one.

Posted by: lemekdivine | March 11, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

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