With 10 days remaining before the start of free agency, Jazz forward Josh Howard said Thursday he's interested in continuing his career in Salt Lake City.
Howard, 32, averaged 8.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in 43 games (18 starts) last season for Utah. He started three games during the Jazz's first-round playoff defeat to San Antonio, which saw Utah swept 4-0.
Howard has fully recovered from midseason arthroscopic left knee surgery, and he's eyeing a multiyear deal after proving himself in SLC via a one-year contract.
"I'm feeling pretty good. I took about a month off and some change, and just got back to it," said Howard, who'll be an unrestricted free agent July 1. "I'm just staying focused. For me, the season ended the way I wanted it to, ultimately. It kind of let me know I was over the hump for my injuries and I was able to get back and help my team as much as possible."
Howard will give Utah full consideration once free agency begins. But he acknowledged he'll have a variety of options after rebounding from an injury-plagued 2009-11 era that saw him play just 22 combined games for Washington.
The nine-year veteran doesn't have an ideal free-agent destination in mind and doesn't feel he has to join a superstar-laden team. Howard simply wants to find the best fit as he enters the next stage of his career, and he'd prefer to join a club that'll allow him to compete for a starting spot.
"I'm still interested in the Jazz. They gave me the opportunity, so that's my loyalty to them, to see what they're going to say," said Howard, who acknowledged Utah met his expectations last season after signing a one-year deal for $2.1 million via the midlevel exception. "But as far as being a free agent and being around the league for a while, I'll have to weigh my options and decide what's best for me at the end of the day."
He added: "No teams really stand out. My ultimate view on that is, I chose the Jazz — a team that's well known throughout the league that's going to compete night in and night out, and that's what I'm ultimately looking for."
Howard has spent the majority of his offseason in Dallas. He's hosting a charity basketball game Saturday that's scheduled to feature the Jazz's Al Jefferson and Devin Harris. Terrell Owens, Dez Bryant and Kenyon Martin are also set to participate.
"It's just fun for the weekend and giving back to the community and also raising money for [my] foundation," Howard said.
Brian T. Smith