Even though the Boston Celtics weren't successful, there's no denying that the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament was a hit. Basketball lovers everywhere agree that the tournament injected a much-needed boost into the regular season, which includes free-agent center Dwight Howard.
The tournament's success seemingly ignited a fire in Howard's gut. The 38-year-old took to social media on his birthday to announce that he's done some thinking and he isn't ready to retire until he gets to play in the in-season tournament.
Assuming that the veteran center is being truthful, the Celtics should do what they can to sign Howard to help with the remainder of the season.
Celtics Rumors: Dwight Howard Free Agency
The Celtics have room for one more veteran minimum contract on their roster, so why not use it on someone like Howard? For starters, he'd bring a ton of experience to the locker room. The former 2004 first-overall selection has been named All-NBA eight times and is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner.
That's without even mentioning how he won an NBA Championship with the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2019-20 season.
Howard might not be in his prime anymore, but that doesn't mean he's useless. He averaged 6.2 points (on 61.2% shooting) and 5.9 rebounds while playing 16.2 minutes for the Lakers back in 2021-22. For reference, his 13.2 rebounds per 100 possessions that season would rank fourth-best on the C's this year.
With that in mind, that campaign was also Howard's last in the NBA. He most recently spent the 2022-23 schedule with the Taoyuan Leopards of Taiwan's T1 League. While he did face easier competition, he still averaged a double-double (23.2 PTS and 16.2 REB) while playing nearly 35 minutes per night, proving that there's still some juice left in the tank.
It'd be in the Celtics' best interest to add another big man, in general, before the playoff push gets tighter. Offseason addition Kristaps Porzingis has already missed five games while Al Horford — who turns 38 in June — can't be relied on to eat big minutes at this stage of his career.
Neemias Queta also hasn't been that effective in his first season with Boston, averaging 4.0 points on 40.0% shooting on 10.3 minutes per outing.
In other words, Howard could be used just as Blake Griffin was last season — a well-liked locker room leader who can play some frontcourt minutes when necessary. If he can successfully hang with the rest of the roster on the court, he could end up making a difference on a championship run.
In the meantime, Boston's outlook looks promising even sans Howard. After all, the Celtics are the 2023-24 NBA Finals favorites across the majority of sportsbooks.
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