HOUSTON – During a television appearance, Dwight Howard said he has not made any decision on whether or not he will opt-out of the final year of his contract with the Houston Rockets and become a free agent.
Howard is set to make roughly $23 million next season if he declined his player option and remained with the Rockets for one more season.
Howard was a guest analyst on TNT's Inside The NBA with Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley, both of whom have been linked to the Rockets recently for different reasons.
Barkley has been a harsh critic of both the Rockets and specifically Howard, saying he looked disinterested at times this season.
"Disinterested? I'm always interested in winning. As a big you want to feel a part of what's going on. If I could bring the ball up the court and shoot threes and go between the legs and do all that stuff, that'd be great. But I have to rely on my teammates to get the ball.
"There have been times when I've been upset and I've taken myself out of games and situations and that's on me. I have to grow and be a better player at that."
"I've had the problem with smiling too much, so when I'm not smiling then it looks like I'm not interested in the game, it's a fine line."
Smith was scheduled to be interviewed earlier in the day by the Rockets for their vacant head coaching position.
Both Smith and Barkley had pointed questions for Howard, which he calmly answered over the course of the show.
When asked about why he thinks people dislike him, Howard said, "People see me and they've see the success I had in Orlando and they see me now and they're probably like, 'what's the difference?'
"I think I was very likable in Orlando and the way that situation ended, I think people felt as though I'm this bad guy. I'm all about myself, I'm a diva. I'm stuck on being Dwight Howard this famous basketball player.
"So people said 'you know what I don't like this guy," Howard continued.
"I hear that a lot and it really hurts me because my heart and my attitude towards the game has always been the same. My drive has always been there.
"To hear people say that it pisses me off because that's not who I am. I never been a bad person, it's not like I want people to like me because I know people are not going to always like me."
Dwight Howard on Inside the NBA addressing criticism he has faced during his career https://t.co/96hzHdvKri
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Host Matt Winer asked Howard if he thought he and James Harden could co-exist on the basketball court, if that pairing could work from a basketball perspective.
"I think we can, I believe we can, but both of us have to be our egos and our pride to the side and say we need each other to win," Howard said. "That's the only way we're going to win. We need each other and we need the other guys on our team to win.
"I was very upset to lose to Golden State the way we did. It just irked me that we didn't have a great season. You have two great players in James Harden, myself on the same team and we were not able to be great this year like we wanted to - together," Howard continued. "And that really pissed me off.
"I've already started training. My focus is making sure I'm in the best shape and my body is better than ever because I want to come into next season with the mentality of dominating from the preseason all the way to the end of the season wherever that may, wherever we end up as far as the playoffs.