“Not Retired”: Don’t Lose Sight of this Important Fact About Dwight Howard

TAIPEI, TAIWAN - FEBRUARY 19: Center Dwight Howard #12 of the Taoyuan Leopards reacts at the court during the T1 League game between TaiwanBeer HeroBears and Taoyuan Leopards at University of Taipei Tianmu Gymnasium on February 19, 2023 in Taipei, Taiwan. (Photo by Gene Wang/Getty Images)

It’s easy to tell that the hole at the backup center role continues to bulge within the minds of Kings fans when a portion of them are calling for Sacramento to sign the 37 year-old Dwight Howard in order to fill it.

Speaking to Mark Haynes of The Sacramento Observer, Howard recently revealed his desire to help bring a championship to California’s capital.

“I’m not retired from the NBA just yet,” he told The Observer. “I would love to help the Sacramento Kings contend for a title.”

The eight-time all-star and former NBA player has been competing overseas for the Taoyuan Leopards, one of six teams in Taiwan’s T1 League, which plays 30 total contests. So not the EuroLeague, not Spain, Germany, Greece, or Italy, not the Adriatic League, not the Turkish Super League, not Russia, not China’s league, not Australia’s NBL—hell, it ain’t even the Harlem Globetrotters. 

Again—and probably most important to keep in mind—he’s 37 and will turn 38 early into next season.

That should be everything anyone needs to know.

The Kings may as well stay within the family, pull the number-21 jersey down from the rafters and bring back Vlade. Or maybe they can convince Brad Miller to throw the threads back on in exchange for free rounds of golf and rounds of beer on the bench. Or perhaps they could give Arvydas Sabonis a contract to back up his All-NBA son.

Simply put, Howard’s old. 

Sac might honestly be better off bringing in former and momentary Kings project Sim Bhullar, who is just the ripe age of 30 at the moment and who also plays in the Pacific island’s T1 League.

Of course, Howard was speaking to a reporter from Sacramento, so he naturally mentioned the Kings. Unless he was trying to troll, he wouldn’t tell Haynes he wants to help the Warriors or Lakers. But outside of it being The Sac Observer, there may be another reason—upon further reflection—as to why Howard might want to join the Beam Team.

After all, Sacramento’s athletic training staff was just honored with the award for the best such staff in the league this season. Everyone is aware that the Kings remained remarkably healthy throughout their magical, drought-busting season. 

It’s been clear since his second stint with the Lakers, which was a comeback of sorts, that Howard can keep himself in shape—and good for him, really, he looks terrific—but that is relative to his age. Even for the training staff of the year, keeping a soon to be 38 year-old healthy in the toughest, most rigorous league is about as likely as Mike Brown walking into the facility with a full head of hair.

As a reminder, the NBA has an 82-game season and Howard only played 20 of the 30 games this past season for the Leopards.

Besides, it’s never a good sign when someone insists that they’re “not retired.” It’s one of the most delusional statements because it’s the kind of thing where an inclination to say it plainly suggests otherwise—kind of like the DMV saying “we love our customers,” or a health insurance provider saying “we value your health” as they raise your premium.

Home run champion Barry Bonds insisted he wasn’t retired in 2008, a year after the last season he played for the San Francisco Giants, and, more recently, he’s still saying it. 

And here’s this for you: the elderly roofer I hired contended that he wasn’t yet retired, but the lack of coordination that caused him to fall fourteen feet and break his arm said otherwise.

But to give the big man some credit, few ever thought he’d compete in a three-point shooting contest. Though he shot just 22.9% from beyond the arc for Taoyuan, one has to applaud Howard’s growth in that aspect of the game (he averaged 3.5 attempts), especially for a guy who hit just 8 total three’s and shot 56.7% from the free throw line in his 18-year NBA career. 

Nevertheless, the 37 year-old has probably reached the limit of growth as an NBA player.

Dwight Howard had a terrific career and he’s pretty much assured an induction into the Hall of Fame, where he rightfully belongs, but his days in the world’s preeminent league are (obviously) done. Regardless, it seems like the big fella is enjoying himself on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

In all, while it was fun to reminisce about a former superstar, the Kings would be crazy to consider signing him, especially with far better free agents out there.

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