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Sixers add Howard as NBA free agency opens

Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid will have some big-man help as they aim to win an NBA title for the Philadelphia 76ers with centre Dwight Howard on his way.

Eight-time All-Star and three-time NBA defensive player of the year Howard finally won his first championship as a Los Angeles Lakers players in the COVID-19 hampered season that recently concluded.

Now he’ll try to help the 76ers win their first since 1983.

Howard’s agent Charles Briscoe told he ESPN that Howard agreed to a one-year contract worth with Philadelphia.

ESPN reported that the deal is for the veterans minimum of $2.6 million.

Philadelphia will be the 2004 No.1 overall pick’s eighth different team – with Howard having two Lakers stints.

However, Howard’s path to Philadelphia wasn;’t all smoothing sailing as he tweeted on Friday – about an hour after NBA free agency started – that he was staying with the Lakers.

“I’m staying right where I belong,” he posted on his Twitter account. “Laker nation I love y’all. Purple and gold never gets old.”

Howard deleted that tweet shortly after it was posted.

The 34-year-old has averaged 16.7 points, 12.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in his career.

Last season with Los Angeles, Howard – in mainly a bench role playing about 19 minutes per game – averaged 7.5 points and 7.3 rebounds in 69 games.

His addition to the 76ers roster is part of an off-season squad rebuild that included Al Horford and Josh Richardson being traded away while sharp-shooting Seth Curry, guard Danny Green and Terrance Ferguson all arrive.

Meanwhile, Sacramento Kings De’Aaron Fox was the first huge winner on the first night of free agency,

Fox and the Kings agreed on a max five-year deal, agent Chris Gaston said, which will net the young star $163 million – which could rise to nearly $200 million if Fox makes an All-NBA team or receives other league honours.

Fox’s extension will kick in for the 2021-22 season and start at $28.1 million.

Elsewhere, Danilo Gallinari – one of the top wings on the free-agent market – is reported to have agreed to a three-year contract worth $61.5 million to link up with the Atlanta Hawks.

Easten Conference champions Miami moved quickly to lock in point guard Goran Dragic and centre Meyers Leonard on two-year deals, the second year in both cases being team options to the Heat.

Dragic will make about $18 million next season and Leonard about $9 million.

Jordan Clarkson is staying at Utah after sealing a four-year $52 million deal while Derrick Favors is returning to the Jazz on a deal that will pay him nearly $30 million for three seasons.

The Detroit Pistons received commitments Friday night from centres Mason Plumlee – on a three-year $25 million contract – and Jahlil Okafor.

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