After leading the Washington Wizards to a shocking 10-point victory
over the Denver Nuggets nearly three weeks ago, Josh Howard reached
into his locker room stall and picked up an all-white Washington
Nationals baseball cap. Howard then explained how much he liked the
curly W logo and that he had bought a few hats in different colors long
before the Dallas Mavericks made him a District resident in a trade
"I got a whole bunch of these," Howard said, flashing his crooked grin as he twisted the slightly oversize cap around his head. "You’ll see."
Howard had hoped to make wins and his assortment of Nats hats a regular post-game sight, but that was the last time he would play a game at Verizon Center and leave the court without assistance.
Howard’s season came to an end just two games later on Feb. 22, when his left knee bent awkwardly while receiving an outlet pass from Mike Miller in the first quarter of a 101-95 win over Chicago. He said he immediately knew "something wasn’t right" but didn’t find out until a day later that he had torn his anterior cruciate ligament.
"It was devastating," said Howard. "No guy wants to find out they’re not going to finish out the season. I had high expectations of taking this team to the playoffs, which I thought we was on our way, too. It was an unfortunate situation to happen."
Howard was the main acquisition, from a talent and financial perspective, when the Wizards made their roster overhaul last month. The Wizards had no intention of picking the one-time all-star ‘s $11.8 million option next season, even before the knee injury. The team began touting the salary cap flexibility provided by his expiring contract immediately after acquiring him from Dallas for Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson.