The big fella insists that, contrary to popular belief, he’s a great locker room presence.
Howard, 30, inked a three-year, $70.5 million deal with the Hawks.
“Grant Hill was a big part of the process,” Howard said of the Hawks’ minority owner and former fellow Orlando Magic star.
“For somebody like [Hill] to believe in me, [Hawks general] Wes Wilcox and Bud (Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer) — for all of these guys to have that belief in me just gave me more confidence. […] After the season, I was a little bit down for a couple days,” Howard admitted. He credits the Hawks’ interest when free agency began July 1 to help him start feeling “really good about myself again.”
Howard’s departure in free agency came as little surprise, given that his offensive role with the Rockets steadily diminished as the season wore on, despite the fact Houston elected to keep Howard at the February trade deadline after initially shopping him. The Rockets then hired Mike D’Antoni — under whom Howard never clicked when both were with the Los Angeles Lakers — as their new coach in June. […] “The one thing that just really I hate to hear with a passion is that I’m a cancer in the locker room and I’m a guy that wants to separate and divide a team,” he responded. “I’ve never been that way my whole life. I’ve always been somebody who wants to bring people together, whether that’s my teammates or that’s the community, families, whatever it may be. Just to hear that word — cancer — it pisses me off, to be honest with you, because that’s not who I am. I’ve never been somebody who didn’t care about my teammates, and I’ve never been that way. And to hear ‘cancer,’ to hear ‘diva,’ things like that, that’s not me.”