Dwight Howard: ‘I want to make this thing work’ in Houston

Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard did his best to dispel rumors of his displeasure on Wednesday. 
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Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard did his best to dispel rumors of his displeasure on Wednesday in an interview with USA Today​’s Sam Amick.

Amick wrote that Howard, who signed with Houston as a free agent in 2013, is widely expected to become a free agent again this summer. Howard indicated that, at least for the short term, he wants to be a Rocket.

The Rockets are a disappointing 12–14, in seventh place in the Western Conference after winning 56 games last season and making the Western Conference finals.

“I chose to go to Houston, so why would I just say, ‘I’m not happy’ and leave,” Howard, 30, said. “I chose this place, you know what I’m saying? And I want to make this thing work here. Obviously we haven't been playing great basketball, and personally for myself my numbers don't seem like I’ve been playing great, but the only thing on my mind is trying to grow as a man and grow as a teammate and a leader. All the BS that’s around, sometimes it is frustrating to hear it, because I know who I am as a man and I know what I’m trying to do for this city.”

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The Rockets fired coach Kevin McHale 11 games into the campaign. Howard is averaging his fewest shots per game since his rookie season in Orlando and just 12.6 points per game, helping fuel rumors that the eight-time All-Star center is unhappy with his role in the offense. 

But Howard told Amick that he came to Houston because of All-Star teammate James Harden and wants to lead the team with him going forward.

“(The losing) gets frustrating, but the big picture is us winning a championship, and we have to get better,” Howard said of Harden. “It starts with me and him. We’ve got to push each other. We’ve got to talk to each other. We’ve just got to be better together. This is why I’m here, so it’s going to happen. But right now, we’re struggling.”

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Howard holds a $23.2 million player option for next season. 

Jeremy Woo