Hawks' Howard: I can't make an impact if I'm on the bench

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports / Action Images

It's fair to say that Dwight Howard's first season in the ATL didn't go as well as he had hoped.

After signing a three-year, $70.5-million deal with the Atlanta Hawks last summer, the 6-foot-11 center saw his role reduced as the season progressed, and was benched twice during the fourth quarter of the team's first-round defeat to the Washington Wizards.

"It was very difficult," Howard told Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I want to play. I want to be out on the floor. I want to make a difference. I want to make an impact, and I can’t do that on the bench."

After averaging a career-low 29.7 minutes per game during the regular season, Howard saw his playing time cut even further this postseason, averaging eight points, 10.7 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 26.2 minutes per game against Washington.

"It hurts," Howard said. "I’m sure if you wrote the best stories in the world and nobody read your stories and they told you to stop writing and you saw somebody else’s story that wasn’t as good as yours, I’m pretty sure you’d be pissed, too. That’s how it is in basketball."

Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer explained earlier this week that although he recognizes Howard's talent, Atlanta's need for spacing prevented him from playing the bulky big man for long stretches.

While Howard was supportive of his coach's decision at the time, he plans to sit down with Budenholzer this summer to discuss his role on the team going forward.

"That’s something that we have to talk about," Howard said. "I can’t give you details here."

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Hawks' Howard: I can't make an impact if I'm on the bench
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