Josh Howard has a new gig. He’s the new head coach at Piedmont International University, a small Division II school in the former Maverick’s hometown of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. And Howard, the 29th pick in the 2003 NBA Draft by Dallas who was a Mav until a 2010 trade to the Washington Wizards, couldn’t be happier.
“It was a blessing in disguise,” Howard, now 36, said. “The head coach at the time’s brother-in-law had passed away and they felt like they needed a coach with more experience, so they offered me the job and I definitely took it. It was the perfect situation for me. It’s a faith-based school. I majored in religion at Wake Forest, so that was right down my alley. I’ve always wanted to give back to the community. This was the perfect way to do it.”
Howard’s last NBA minutes came in 2012 with the Minnesota Timberwolves, who released him due to chronic knee issues. He then landed in the D-League with the Austin Toros and played for them until February 2014, when he was released due to a season-ending injury.
He last surfaced with the New Orleans Pelicans’ Summer League team in 2014 and even though he hasn’t played in several years, he still hasn’t officially retired. “No, I haven’t signed the paperwork yet. Still got a little gas in my tank,” Howard said.
Even with his knee issues cutting his NBA career considerably shorter than many thought it would originally be, Josh recalls his time in the Association with no regrets.
“Aw man, I was greatly blessed to accomplish some of the things I did-make it to the NBA Finals in ’06, had that great year in ’07,” Howard recalled. “Had a couple bumps in the road that I was able to overcome and it’s a part of the game. I feel like I had a great 10-year career. A lot of people remember me for coming out there and playing hard, and that’s all I wanted.”
And not surprisingly, most of his best NBA memories came while he was in Dallas between 2003 and 2010.
“Awesome years, I learned a lot about basketball and becoming a young man,” Howard said. “It was an awesome time. Dallas is my second home. I never left. I just moved a little bit further north every year.”
At Wake Forest, he played for Dave Odom and Skip Prosser. In the NBA, he played for Donnie Nelson, Avery Johnson and current Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle in Dallas, and for the late Flip Saunders in Washington and Rick Adelman in Minnesota.
Howard plans on incorporating tidbits from each coach he’s played for to formulate his own coaching philosophy and style.
“All of them are excellent coaches and they had great qualities about themselves that I took from pretty much each one of them,” Howard said. “To have that type of knowledge instilled in me, I definitely have to share that with these young men coming up in this world right now.”