Dwight Howard of the disappointing Houston Rockets is a basketball player with unlimited potential. Twelve years into Howard’s NBA career, it looks increasingly like that’s what he may always be. Bursting onto the scene in 2004 with physical gifts equaled by no man his size, Howard looked poised to start collecting championships early and often. But it hasn’t panned out that way. One thing Howard has collected is gold. His current contract with the Houston Rockets is due to pay him $23.3 million next season. He’s in the news because the Rockets are interested in seeing if someone else would like to pay him.
The NBA has a lot of highly paid players, some of whom inevitably underperform. But the question here is whether Howard is the worst $23 million a year guy. (He makes $22.4 million this year.) Leaving out Kobe Bryant’s $25 million salary, essentially a parting gift from the Lakers for a lifetime of service, then the answer is still only maybe. Why? Because Joe Johnson and Carmelo Anthony also make more than Howard this year. And if the team’s success is a measure of its stars’ value, then consider that Johnson’s Nets, Anthony’s Knicks, and Bryant’s Lakers are a combined 48-116 this year. The Rockets hover near .500 at 27-28 with playoff hopes. And Howard is so gifted a championship is always within reach, just as it has always been.