A new year has begun and as the NBA season hits its turning point this month, Josh Howard is mindful of the fact that opportunity could soon be knocking.
Josh has been biding his time through the first two-plus months of the season in the NBA’s Developmental League where is assigned to the San Antonio Spurs D-League affiliate, the Austin Toros. In nine games with the Toros this season, he has averaged 12.8 points and 4.3 rebounds in 25.7 minutes per game.
But The Show still harbors the dream of playing basketball in NBA arenas once again.
“I’m still living my dream of playing basketball for a living,” he told Fran Blinebury of NBA.com.
December 14 marked one year since Josh tore his ACL while playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He spent the rest of the season healing and entered the offseason seeking another opportunity. After trying out for several teams, he was asked by the Spurs if he would entertain playing in the Developmental League to continue his comeback. Where some might see an insult, Josh saw an opportunity.
“I’m not the typical NBA player that sits there and worries about what other people think,” he said. “There’s not an ounce of me that says any of this is beneath me. I play the game because I love it. I know there are other guys out there that might not want to do it. But to get the opportunity to play the game again after I tore my ACL a couple years ago, I had to jump at the chance. That’s how I was raised my mama and my grandma — don’t ever waste an opportunity.”
He certainly has not wasted this opportunity. After shaking off the rust in a few games, Josh had his best game of the season on December 7th against the Texas Legends, the affiliate of his former team the Dallas Mavericks. In that game, Josh scored 23 points, collected seven rebounds, and a blocked shot while playing 38 minutes in a 108-99 Toros win.
Unfortunately, Josh suffered a hamstring injury just a few weeks later and has not played in a game since December 27.
“Before the hamstring, I was running with all these 23- and 24-year-olds and keeping up,” he said. “The positive thing from the knee injuries is that I’ve had most of three years of no wear and tear on my legs, so they don’t have the typical mileage of a guy who’s 33.”
Josh hopes to get back to playing in games in Mid-January and he knows NBA teams will be watching closely as they prepare for the stretch run and deal with injuries to their own roster. He remains hopeful he will get a call back up to the league. But even if he doesn’t get a chance to play in the NBA this season, Josh says he’ll keep pursuing his dream.
“Right now, I’m focused on the getting this team better, getting myself better and if that call-up comes, I’m taking it,” he said. “If not, I’m gonna finish out the season out here. Then maybe it’s the summer league, if the opportunity presents itself.”