Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard told KHOU 11 Sports on Sept. 27 he was hurt by the departures of former teammates Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik.
Dwight Howard was hurt by the departures of Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik.
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This was what Howard told KHOU 11 Sports' Daniel Gotera on Sept. 27:
"Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard said Saturday he was 'hurt' to see teammates he had grown close to last season leave during the summer.
"Those teammates being Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik.
"'I was hurt when Chandler left, I was hurt when Jeremy left and I was shocked when Big O left,' Howard said. 'I was sad to see him (Asik) go but that's the nature of the business.'
"Howard made the comments during a basketball camp he hosted for 120 members of the Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and Greater Houston United Service Organization on Saturday.
"The veteran center didn't shy away from talking about the changes his team underwent during the offseason.
"'We're definitely going to miss those guys. I know for me personally I had developed a bond with each and every one of those guys,' Howard said. 'We developed a bond from the season and and in the playoffs it just got stronger to see those guys go was real sad.'
"Despite the departures, Howard was very quick to point out that he and the guys that stayed behind are moving on.
"'I wish those guys nothing but the best but right now it's all about H-Town,' Howard said.
"Howard is entering his second season with the Rockets, a team he picked in 2013 because he felt this was the place he could finally win that highly-coveted NBA title. He still feels the Rockets are in position to do just that.
"'We have a great situation here in Houston, we have some guys that can go out there and can play solid at both ends of the floor,' Howard said. 'It's on me and James to lead these guys. They (front office) put us in a position where we have to lead, not just by example but by everything that we do.'
"One of the new faces that Howard and fellow All-Star James Harden will be leading is Trevor Ariza who is making his second stint with the Rockets.
"'I'm excited that he's here, I think he's going to be great for our team,' Howard said of Ariza. 'He's at a different place now than he was a couple of years ago.'"
Howard also declared his back -- which underwent offseason surgery two years ago -- is now healthier than ever, per The Houston Chronicle's Jenny Dial Creech:
"Rockets center Dwight Howard has spent the last two years working to come back from back surgery he had in the offseason in 2012.
"This summer, Howard said he made significant strides to get back to a high level of play.
"'When you have a serious injury -- the back injury I suffered, it takes time to heal,' Howard said. 'I don't think a lot of people understood how serious the injury was. It was something that could have been career-ending. I decided to come back and play earlier than I was supposed to and I suffered a lot because of that.
"'I am healthier now. I had a really good summer on training and I am just looking forward to this season.'
"Last season, Howard spent extra time in the gym working on his footwork and his quickness, among other parts of of his game that were affected by the injury and surgery. As the year progressed, he got more comfortable and found more strength.
"'I knew after the back surgery that some of my explosiveness and speed and agility had slowed down,' Howard said. 'So I spent a lot of time this summer doing a lot of those things that could help the process.'"
The 28-year-old Howard is entering his 11th NBA season. He has averaged 18.3 points, 12.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 768 regular-season games through Oct. 1 with the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets, per ESPN stats.
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