This summer’s big decision was made, unmade and made again Friday in true Dwight Howard fashion.
Following an afternoon filled with reports that the free-agent center had decided to sign with the Houston Rockets and just needed to work out the details, he briefly backtracked on that decision Friday night and flew from Colorado to Los Angeles to meet with Lakers GM Mitch Kupchack one last time, according to FOX Sports’ Bill Reiter.
Shortly after, Kupchak ended the drama with this statement:
“We have been informed of Dwight’s decision to not return to the Lakers. Naturally we’re disappointed. However, we will now move forward in a different direction with the future of the franchise and, as always, will do our best to build the best team possible, one our great Lakers fans will be proud to support. To Dwight, we thank him for his time and consideration, and for his efforts with us last season. We wish him the best of luck on the remainder of his NBA career.”
And minutes after that, Howard had changed his Twitter account to show himself in a Rockets jersey.
I’ve decided to become a member of the Houston Rockets. I feel its the best place for me and I am excited (cont) http://t.co/h8WK4yP3zB
Four other teams — Lakers, Warriors, Mavericks, and Hawks — were in the hunt for Howard this offseason, but the 27-year-old has elected to join a young Rockets team on the rise in the Western Conference. He’ll reportedly sign for four years and $88 million.
Last summer, Howard left the Orlando Magic for Los Angeles in a blockbuster trade that made the Lakers an early-season favorite to get to the NBA Finals.
However, injuries and poor team chemistry doomed the Lakers from the start, and despite earning a playoff spot, they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round.
The Rockets, led by rising stars Chandler Parsons and James Harden, were the youngest team in the NBA last season. Houston lost in six games to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs.
Parsons and Howard reportedly already had a close relationship this offseason, discussing the possibility of winning a championship together in Houston.
Lakers teammates Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and other representatives met with Howard on Tuesday. But their efforts — and Friday’s last-ditch meeting — were eventually not enough to keep the big man in LA for more than one season.