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Hawks reach 3-year deal to bring Dwight Howard home
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Houston Rockets’ Dwight Howard dunks against the Golden State Warriors during the first half in Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series on April 24 in Houston. - photo by David J. Phillip

Dwight Howard is coming home.

After a lengthy afternoon meeting with the Hawks on the first day of NBA free agency, the eight-time All-Star center agreed to a three-year, $70.5 million contract with his hometown team Friday night, according to a person familiar with the situation. The deal has an average annual salary of $23.5 million, the same figure he was due before he opted out of the final year of his contract with the Rockets. The new contract cannot be signed until the end of the NBA moratorium Thursday.

It is unclear what the move means for Al Horford, the Hawks’ four-time All-Star center, who began meeting with other teams as he entered free agency. Horford reportedly will meet with the Rockets and Celtics on Friday. Hawks management said before free agency that re-signing Horford was a priority, and the team accounted for a maximum deal in its salary cap.

The Hawks could still re-sign Horford.

A contingent from the Hawks met with Howard at restaurant in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood Friday afternoon.

Howard, who was born in Atlanta, entered the NBA out of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy as the No. 1 overall pick by the Magic in 2004. He has had several opportunities to return home and play for the Hawks, but declined each time. Most recently, he passed on the Hawks’ pitch and signed with the Rockets in 2013.

However, Howard recently opted out of the contract with the Rockets and reportedly was looking now for a contract in the neighborhood of that annual salary.

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