Josh Howard ended an injury-plagued 1½ year stint in Washington on Thursday, agreeing in principle to a one-year deal with the Utah Jazz. Howard played just 22 games with the Wizards after arriving in deal that shipped Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson to Dallas at the trade deadline in 2010.
Howard tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in his fourth game with the team, then signed a one-year deal to come back. Complications with tendinitis his knee contributed to him moving in and out of the lineup, and averaging a career low 8.4 points on 35.8 percent shooting.
“We wish him the best,” Wizards General Manager Ernie Grunfeld said. “Unfortunately, we really couldn’t see the real Josh. Before he got hurt, he had three or four good games for us. He’s a true professional.”
Howard met with the Jazz in North Carolina and came to terms two days later. He was also considering the Wizards, San Antonio, Portland and New Jersey. While visiting a local charter school in Washington last week, Howard said he wasn’t necessarily focused on joining a contender.
“I think no matter where you’re at, if you can make the situation right for yourself, and the people around, it can get better,” Howard said. “Ultimately, I just want to be on a good team, where guys are coming in hungry to play and to learn.”
In Utah, Howard will have an opportunity to reunite with former Mavericks teammate Devin Harris. Howard played with Harris from 2004-08 and worked out with him and trainer Tim Martin in Dallas during the lockout.
An all-star in 2007, Howard has career averages of 15.1 points and 5.9 rebounds. He still needs to pass a physical in order to sign with the Jazz, which should be a formality since he already passed a physical during a visit with San Antonio, which also offered him a contract, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
“A lot of teams have been asking about my knee and stuff. They wanted to have their own personal MRI,” Howard said of the Spurs. “I did the knee, ankle and I had surgery. Other than that, everything came back fine.”
Utah Jazz General Manager Kevin O’Connor told the Salt Lake Tribune, “The risk is limited but the potential for reward is enormous.”