Dwight Howard tweets that he’ll sign with Rockets
Dwight Howard never grew comfortable playing with Kobe Bryant
and for Mike D’Antoni.
Once a wide-smiling, fun-loving big guy, Howard lacked that joy
in Los Angeles.
The Rockets are confident he’ll find it again in Houston.
”We’re going to get a smile back on his face that hasn’t been
on it for a couple of years because of various things, injury and
maybe the team situation he was in at the time,” general manager
Daryl Morey told Comcast SportsNet Houston. ”He’s going to have a
smile back on his face.”
The Rockets were the ones beaming Friday, thanks to Howard’s
choice to take less money in hopes of more happiness.
”I’ve decided to become a member of the Houston Rockets. I feel
(it’s) the best place for me and I am excited about joining the
Rockets and I’m looking forward to a great season,” Howard wrote
He leaves behind an extra $30 million and an offense under
D’Antoni that he was never fully pleased with, joining a Rockets
team that could become an immediate contender in the Western
Conference with the All-Star center in the middle.
”Years of work by Dwight & Rockets went into this. This
team is going to be special,” Morey tweeted.
USA Today first reported earlier Friday that Howard would join
the Rockets, where he will team with All-Star James Harden to give
the Rockets a potentially potent inside-outside combination.
That didn’t quite end the Howard saga, which has dragged on a
couple of years. Howard spoke again with the Lakers amid reports he
was changing his mind.
Turns out, he was just saying goodbye.
”We have been informed of Dwight’s decision to not return to
the Lakers,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a
statement. ”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.”
Dallas, Golden State and Atlanta were the other suitors
interested in Howard.
But it was the Rockets, who brought Hall of Fame center Hakeem
Olajuwon with them when they made their pitch to Howard on Monday,
who beat out the other teams.
And now Howard will follow the likes of Olajuwon and Yao Ming in
The deal can’t become official until July 10, after next
season’s salary cap has been set. The Rockets can give him a
four-year deal worth about $88 million, a year less and far below
the $118 million the Lakers could have offered.
The Lakers acquired Howard last August from Orlando as part of a
four-way trade that also included Philadelphia and Denver.
He averaged 17.1 points and 12.4 rebounds in 76 games, good
numbers but far from his usual dominant play in eight seasons with
the Magic as he played his way back into shape following back
He wasn’t a natural fit in D’Antoni’s system, had what appeared
at times to be a strained relationship with Bryant and acknowledged
not having fun at times.
Bryant apparently won’t miss him. Though he took part in the
Lakers’ meeting with Howard on Tuesday, the five-time champion
posted a photo on Instagram of himself and Pau Gasol, the Lakers’
remaining big man, shortly after Howard’s decision.
Howard’s awkward departure is right in line with the confusion
that’s followed him over the last few years.
The No. 1 pick in the 2004 draft was one of the NBA’s most
popular and likable players, an Olympic gold medalist who led the
Magic to the 2009 NBA Finals – where they lost to Bryant and the
But he decided a couple of years later that he wanted out of
Orlando, and the Magic eventually gave his agent permission to
negotiate with the Nets, Mavericks and Lakers about arranging a
Yet Howard would later agree to not opt for free agency,
remaining with the Magic for the 2011-12 season. Howard’s season
ended prematurely when he needed back surgery, and Orlando finally
dealt him to Los Angeles.
The Lakers’ season was a disappointment, with Bryant, Gasol and
Steve Nash all missing time with injuries. They never developed any
chemistry, getting swept in the first round of the playoffs by San
The Rockets believe he’ll find that chemistry in Houston.
”We have good teammates. They’re young. They’re guys who are
great not only on the floor but off. He’s going to get along great
with our team,” Morey said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet