Schlenk: Several teams showed ‘significant interest’ in Howard

The Atlanta Hawks’ Dwight Howard (8) tries to fend off the Philadelphia 76ers’ Richaun Holmes (22) during the fourth quarter on Wednesday, March 29, 2017, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The Hawks won, 99-92. (Yong Kim/Philadelphia Daily News/TNS)

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The Atlanta Hawks’ Dwight Howard (8) tries to fend off the Philadelphia 76ers’ Richaun Holmes (22) during the fourth quarter on Wednesday, March 29, 2017, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The Hawks won, 99-92. (Yong Kim/Philadelphia Daily News/TNS)

The Hawks had several teams show “significant interest” in Dwight Howard before the team traded the center to the Hornets on Tuesday. New general manager Travis Schlenk insisted the move does not signal a rebuild.

Schlenk said three or four teams inquired about Howard when he first took the job and began speaking to other teams around the league.

“When I first got the job, one of the first things you do is start making calls to all the other teams and see what value your players have around the league,” Schlenk said. “Dwight’s name came up in some of those conversations. Over the course of the weeks, Charlotte expressed a lot of interest. We sat down and we make those decisions. To get where we want to go, to increase our flexibility, we thought this was the time to make the trade.”

The Hawks sent Howard and the No. 31 pick in the Thursday’s NBA Draft to the Hornets for Miles Plumlee, Marco Belinelli and the No. 41 pick.

“At the end, when it came down to it, Charlotte showed the most interest,” Schlenk said. “We went with what we thought was the best package.”

Schlenk reiterated that the trade of Howard was to create and maintain salary-cap flexibility in the short term and the long term. Howard has two years and $47 million remaining on the contract he signed as a free agent last year. The Hawks returned a total of about $44 million in Plumlee and Belinelli.

“Our goal is still to be competitive,” Schlenk said. “Being competitive and maintaining our flexibility, that’s still where we are. We are not in a rebuild phase.”