Dwight Howard will join Houston Rockets
After 20 months of twists and turns in the Dwight Howard saga, he made a decision on where he will play next season, the Houston Rockets.
"I've decided to become a member of the Houston Rockets," Howard tweeted. "I feel its the best place for me and I am excited about joining the Rockets and I'm looking forward to a great season. I want to thank the fans in Los Angeles and wish them the best."
Howard's deal with Houston is worth $88 million over four years. If he had stayed with the Lakers he could've made another $30 million and one more season.
Late Friday evening, Howard had changed histwitter avatar to him wearing a Rockets uniform coach purse
Howard informed all the teams in the running of his decision one at a time, with the Lakers coming later in the day.
"We have been informed of Dwight's decision to not return to the Lakers. Naturally we're disappointed," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. "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."
For all the allure of the Lakers that he was so excited about after the trade that brought him to Los Angeles in the summer of 2012, Howard ultimately went with the team that gave him the best chance to win a championship now rather than later.
The Rockets had gone to great lengths to clear the way for his arrival, remaking their roster and offering a chance to partner with James Harden on the team that went 45-37 last season and pushed his former Oklahoma City Thunder team to six games in a first-round playoff loss.
After being traded from the Orlando Magic to the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-team deal a year ago, Howard entered the summer unsure of what he might do because of the awful Lakers season that had unfolded.
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His partnership with Kobe Bryant never went as planned, nor did his recovery from back surgery in April 2012 that hindered his play for most of the season.
The five-team race between the Rockets, Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks included lengthy meetings with each team in Los Angeles this week that not only would determine his final destination but also slow a free agency period that should speed up now that his decision is known.
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The practice of superstars pushing their way to greener pastures is hardly a unique concept in today's NBA, but Howard's was in a class all its own because of the seemingly endless twists and turns and his infamous indecisiveness.
With word long having spread about his growing unhappiness in Orlando during the lockout, his first public request came during training camp in December 2011.
He had taken the Magic to new heights, as they went from 21 wins the season before he was taken first overall out of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy in 2004 to 36 wins in his rookie season. Then, starting in 2006, they went on a run of six consecutive playoff appearances that included an NBA Finals loss to the Lakers in 2009 and a conference finals loss to the Boston Celtics in 2010.
Howard has won three NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards, was known as the best center in the game, and had a fun-loving image that would be battered throughout the year to come coach
But Howard wanted more, to play on the sort of stage that would help him become an icon of the sporting world. That was the word he so often came back to with those closest to him, and the one he had written on a sheet of paper that was taped to the bedroom mirror of his Bel Air home as a reminder: "Icon."
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So his list of preferred destinations would soon be widely known, with the then-soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets a clear favorite and the Lakers and Dallas Mavericks seen as distant backup options. There were months of trade talk updates, both real and contrived, followed by the surreal All-Star weekend in Orlando in which Howard was the host who had one foot out the door. It was the perfect storm of media madness, with Howard facing relentless questioning about his future while trying to explain the difference between loving a town and loving a team.
As the March 2012 trade deadline neared, the Nets were closing in on a deal and it seemed Howard's vision of pairing with point guard Deron Williams in Brooklyn would become reality. Until, of course, Howard made the stunning and puzzling decision that complicated it all.
By deciding to opt in with the Magic for last season – a choice he credited to loyalty that also allowed him to keep open the possibility of a five-year maximum contract as opposed to four – the "Dwightmare" was painfully prolonged coach handbag
It would all unravel a month later with the most memorable moment of them all, when then-Magic coach Stan Van Gundy candidly told the local media that Howard wanted him fired and, seconds later, felt the affectionate embrace of Howard as he walked up unknowingly and draped his right arm around his coach.
A month later, Van Gundy and then-general manager Otis Smith were ousted. Three months later, after the Nets' possibility had come and gone countless times, Howard was dealt to the Lakers in the four-team trade that seemed to answer the questions about his future.
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