Tom Sorensen

Will Dwight Howard be just what the Hornets need?

Charlotte Hornets center Dwight Howard jokes with general Manager Rich Cho during a news conference in June.
Charlotte Hornets center Dwight Howard jokes with general Manager Rich Cho during a news conference in June. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

At the end of the 2016-17 season, the Charlotte Hornets might have led the league in job openings. The last of those openings will be filled when they sign Julyan Stone. At 6-6 and 28 years old, Stone will serve as Charlotte’s third-team point guard.

Of all the newcomers, I’m most curious about Malik Monk, the rookie guard from Kentucky whom the Hornets selected with the draft's 11th pick. He's Charlotte's youngest player.

But the key to the 2017-18 Hornets will be their oldest player. Dwight Howard turns 32 in December. He’s seems older because he was drafted in 2004, the first player taken. The season will be his 14th.

The Hornets acquired Howard from the Atlanta Hawks in June for Marco Bellinelli and for Miles Plumlee’s contract.

For Howard, that should be an insult.

It’s as if the Hornets said: “We've got 80 cents in our pocket, half a power bar and a pen. You can have all three for Howard.”

And the Howard’s hometown Hawks said, “Yes, yes, please, please, yes, and you can keep the pen.”

Last season, Howard shot 63.3 percent from the field and averaged 13.5 points (four points beneath his career average) and 12.7 rebounds.”

He also became forlorn when he didn’t get the ball.

But when you meet Howard, his greeting is: I will rebound and play defense and score when you need me He’s playing for team owner Michael Jordan, whom he greatly admires, and for head coach Steve Clifford, who as an assistant has twice coached him.

The Hornets have a strong collection of veterans, and as they go perhaps Howard will. If he can be even close to the force he once was, the post-Bobcats' Hornets can be the team for which we've been waiting.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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