This is a series focusing on Mavericks of the past and how they’re using the Las Vegas Summer League to try to extend their careers.
LAS VEGAS — You don’t always see players in their mid-30s running, jumping and diving around the basketball floor during the Las Vegas Summer League. Former Dallas Mavericks guard Josh Howard, 34, is an exception to the rule. After multiple ACL surgeries, Howard is not giving up on the dream.
“It’s just hard work, consistent prayer,” Howard said on what has allowed him to keep going. “There’s a lot of trainers who have been pushing me. I’ve still got the motor, and I want to keep playing.”
Howard is part of the draft class that brought the likes of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh into the league. While those players have had sustained success, the No. 29 pick of that draft has gone down a different path. He spent his first six and a half season with Dallas, before being traded around the league multiple times.
Howard is a former NBA All-Star, but the surgeries and inconsistent play of recent seasons left him the Austin Toros last season in the D-League. Looking to impress teams into giving him a shot, Howard joined the New Orleans Pelicans‘ summer league squad.
The Pelicans don’t have a lot of money to spend and could use help off the bench at the small forward position. Theoretically, Howard fits their need, if he can still show that the can play at the NBA level and, more importantly, stay healthy.
Howard looked impressive in his first game of the summer league as he scored 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting. His game hit a wall of sorts as he scored just six points in the remaining two games he played during the summer league.
The veteran forward is hoping the Hornets will give him a shot. If not, he’ll keep trying to find a team that will get him back into the league. If that door shuts, Howard intends to pursue another avenue to stay in the game.
“I’ve never been a quitter. I want to try to snowball my career into coaching or scouting,” Howard explained. “I have a good feel on watching guys and how they play. Even if I don’t make a team, maybe someone will offer me a job in that area because I’ve been around, I know the game.”
Howard still lives in Dallas and runs his annual basketball camps in the area. He still keeps in communication with some of the people in the organization and knows some of the newer players they have brought in. Forward Dirk Nowitzki is still someone Howard interacts with. Howard couldn’t be any happier to see that his former teammate is in a great place in life, on and off the floor.
“Just to see my guy happy, to see him get a ring, I was happy for him,” Howard said. “When I came in as a rookie, I watched his work ethic, and he’s one of the guys who had a big impact on my career.”
Howard is hoping that his motor and drive will connect to general managers around the league and he can earn one more shot in the league. If he gets it, it’s likely his final one.