ATLANTA (AP) – Dwight Howard is coming home to Atlanta.
Howard agreed Friday to join the Hawks, who also re-signed Kent Bazemore during a busy first day of free agency.
Howard received a three-year contract worth $70.5 million, while Bazemore will get $70 million over four years, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. The person was granted anonymity because contracts can’t be signed until July 7.
Howard returns to his hometown after three seasons in Houston, where he battled injuries and wasn’t the force he was earlier in his career. He managed just 13.7 points per game last season, lowest since he averaged 12 as a rookie for Orlando after being taken with the No. 1 selection in the 2004 draft out of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy.
It’s still unknown if he will play with Al Horford or replace him. The All-Star center was still available as of late Friday night.
If he leaves, the Hawks would need Howard, 30, to play better than he did in Houston. After averaging 18.3 points in his first season, he tailed off to 15.8 while missing half the 2014-15 season, before dropping off further last season while the Rockets barely made the playoffs.
But even if his offense isn’t there, Howard can still at times be a dominant rebounder and shot blocker, though not quite at the level that won him three straight Defensive Player of the Year awards from 2009-11.
Bazemore, who turned 27 on Friday, started 68 games for the Hawks last season, averaging 11.6 points while taking the starting spot held by DeMarre Carroll before he signed in Toronto.
AP Sports Writer Charles Odum in Atlanta contributed to this report.
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