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2018 NBA Free Agency: Wizards officially sign Dwight Howard

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The Wizards now have a new starting center who also happens to be one of the best.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Orlando Magic Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, the Wizards officially signed Dwight Howard to a two-year contract per previous reports. In a press release, Wizards President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld said the following:

Dwight has been known throughout his career as one of the league’s best defenders, rebounders and finishers around the rim, all areas that we needed to improve heading into next season. His inside presence and athleticism will give us a much different look and will open up opportunities for us on both ends of the floor.

Howard comes to the Wizards after playing with the Charlotte Hornets in the 2017-18 season. Last season he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds for Charlotte, playing in 81 games.

That said, Howard is best known playing for the Orlando Magic between 2004 and 2012 and led the Magic to the 2009 NBA Finals. Since 2012, he’s still been one of the best defensive centers in the NBA. Along the way, he won the Defensive Player of the Year award three times and made All-NBA teams five teams in his 14 NBA seasons.

Unfortunately, Howard also had poor relationships with coaches and teammates. That is partly why he has been a journeyman, whether with the Lakers (2012-2013), Rockets (2013-2016), and Hawks (2016-17) before going to the Hornets last season.

The Wizards were in a need of a center when Marcin Gortat was traded. Though Howard is probably not a long term solution (starting Ian Mahinmi may be just a bit too risky), he will at least keep the Wizards stable in the low post as they try to improve in the Eastern Conference standings this fall and winter.