HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Two former Dallas Mavericks, Josh Howard and Delonte West, are among a notable group of players that are out of a job as the 2012-13 season begins, but hope they’re not out of luck.
Howard, a one-time All-Star in Dallas and once thought to be the rising star that would play alongside Dirk Nowitzki for years to come, is residing in Dallas, healthy, working out and waiting for the phone to ring. At 32, Howard refuses to believe that his career will end prematurely.
“I’m just waiting for the opportunity to get on a team,” Howard, a 6-foot-7 small forward with nine seasons under his belt, told NBA.com on Tuesday. “My agent has been staying in contact with teams and continues to communicate with those teams. It’s a waiting game.”
For now, 15-man rosters are set. Until an injury creates a need or a team waives a player, Howard, who had interest from a handful of teams over the summer and made several visits with no offers forthcoming, waits, even as former Mavs teammate Jerry Stackhouse, 37, owns a roster spot with the Brooklyn Nets despite playing in just 37 games the last two seasons.
“I look at it as motivating,” Howard said of not being signed. “It’s never a disappointment. I look at my career and if it were to end today I can say honestly that I was one of the best players in the league for a while. I made it to the Finals, but you know my goal is to win the Finals and I want another opportunity. That’s my drive in me still and my competitiveness. I’m not ready to stop playing. I’m staying aggressive and hoping a team picks me up.”
Unlike newly unemployed combo guard West, Howard is taking the traditional approach to job hunting, allowing his agent to converse with league general managers. West, 29, had a job on a veteran minimum deal with the Mavs at the start of training camp, but Dallas waived him on Monday after twice suspending the quirky guard for behavioral issues deemed detrimental to the team.
On Wednesday, West put his search on his fingertips and began a campaign on Twitter (@CharleeRedz13) — in his unique 140-character stylings — to find work with a fifth franchise in what would be his ninth NBA season. Since his unfortunate 2009 arrest when he was stopped for speeding on his motorcycle and carrying firearms, West, who suffers from bipolar disorder, has been relegated to a string of one-year contracts and unable, he believes, to shed the perception that he’s a malcontent. His eviction from the Mavs didn’t help his cause.
His string of tweets alerted general managers, and anyone else on Twitter, that he’s available and worth the risk:
“It’s not even takin a chance…I’m not comin to yr team riddin a motorcycle…High Q player/person ..low cost…great influence on young P. … Defend and play all 3 guard spots…complete player…can be a scorer if asked can be whatever a team needs do to wide verity of skill set. … Only ask for communication about when checks come up missin or short…other than that…let’s win some games and have fun while we doin it!”
Howard has seemingly moved beyond the immaturity issues that plagued his final seasons in Dallas as well as the ACL injury and lingering knee problems he struggled through with the Washington Wizards. He enjoyed last season in Utah where he averaged 8.7 points and 3.7 rebounds, and he began to regain his form as a slasher.
He says he is the picture of health now, is content to assume a role off the bench and do whatever is asked of him, and mentor younger players.
He remains optimistic and views Leandro Barbosa‘s late signing with the Boston Celtics and Eddy Curry signing with Dallas just days before the start of the season as hope that he’ll, too, soon find a new home.
“Ultimately, I have to stay ready, which I am, as far as in the gym, and stay positive,” Howard said. “I don’t think my career’s over.”
Other notable players still looking for a team:
Guards: Derek Fisher, Gilbert Arenas (in talks with Chinese team), Baron Davis, Earl Boykins, Mickael Pietrus, Michael Redd, Maurice Evans, Jason Kapono
Forwards/Centers: Kenyon Martin, Shawne Williams, Quentin Richardson, Bobby Simmons, Bill Walker, Jamario Moon, Renaldo Balkman, Ryan Gomes, Troy Murphy, Josh Powell, Derrick Caracter, Ben Wallace, Greg Oden, Sean Williams, Tony Battie, Mehmet Okur