The Dwight Howard era with the Nets is nearly over two weeks after it began. The Nets reportedly have reached a buyout agreement with the veteran center they acquired June 20, and he is expected to sign for the $5.3-million mini-midlevel exception with the Wizards when the trade and buyout become official after the NBA moratorium ends at 12:01 a.m. ET Friday.
The Athletic in Boston was first to report the news Tuesday, and the Washington Post confirmed it, citing “people in the league familiar with the team’s plans.”
The Nets acquired Howard and the final year of his contract worth $23.8 million from the Hornets the day before the NBA Draft in a deal confirmed by Newsday. As part of the trade, they were able to dump the final two years of Timofey Mozgov’s contract, worth $32.7 million, and Charlotte also received the No. 45 pick in this year’s draft and the Nets’ second-round pick in 2021.
After getting Howard, the Nets immediately went to work on a buyout. A player often accepts 33 percent less than the full salary in exchange for becoming an unrestricted free agent. That would amount to about $8 million in Howard’s case, but because fewer teams have salary-cap room and the fact that Howard is accepting a midlevel exception, it would not be surprising if the Nets save little more than $5 million in the buyout.
ESPN expert Bobby Marks figured the Nets had just over $6 million in remaining cap space with Howard on the books. That number could climb to $9 million-$11 million, depending on the buyout terms.
Once Howard’s trade to the Nets and his buyout become official Friday morning, the Nets will place him on waivers. After he clears waivers, Howard will be free to sign a new contract. By all indications, he will join the Wizards, who were a playoff team last season and recently traded center Marcin Gortat away, creating an opening Howard can fill.
The upside for the Nets is that general manager Sean Marks got Mozgov off the books for next season, creating enough salary-cap room for two max contracts.