Dwight Howard’s uncertain future finally became clear when he decided to sign with the Houston Rockets on a 4-year deal.
The 27 year-old leaves the Los Angeles Lakers after just one season and will now hope to revive his Championship dream in Texas. Howard was officially announced as a Rocket and said:
“I’m not going to say we’re going to win 5 Championships but if we really dedicate ourselves and sacrifice everything we’ve got then we give ourselves a chance at the end of the season.”
Howard is a seven time All-Star and came closest to an elusive first ring in 2009 after leading his Orlando Magic side to the Finals where they would lose to the team he would join three seasons later.
The move to L.A didn’t go according to plan for the 6’11” centre with numerous reports of rifts with Kobe Bryant whilst being unsettled at the franchise. The Lakers didn’t enjoy the best of regular seasons and scraped into the play-offs as 8th seed in the West courtesy of a strong finish to their campaign.
Howard struggled early on but still managed to post impressive season stats of 17.1 ppg and 12.4 rebounds although both represented his lowest scoring average since his Sophomore year six years ago.
His services were highly sought after when the free agency period began with Dallas and Golden State two other teams in the running to sign Howard. However, as the saga dragged on it became clear that Houston were the growing favourites and sealed the deal with an $88 million contract for the next four seasons.
The Lakers were keen to retain their big man as were the fans with multiple ‘Stay D12’ posters situated across the city but the 27 year-old insisted that Houston were the better option as he aims to return to having fun on the court.
“I made the decision for me and I want to get back to the guy who played basketball having fun and dominating at the same time” added Howard.
Howard‘s now former team-mate Bryant has been something of a social media sensation since joining Twitter and the injured superstar unfollowed the newly dubbed ‘Rocketman‘:
I wish d12 the best honestly. I just find it hard to follow players that wanna kick my teams ass #thatsjustme
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) July 9, 2013
The five time NBA Champion also offered his opinion on the departure of Metta World Peace a.k.a Ron Artest after the Lakers activated his amnesty release clause and Bryant claimed it was ‘a tough day for Laker Nation’.
Following the departures of Howard and World Peace, the Lakers have recruited Chris Kaman and Nick Young from Dallas and Philadelphia respectively.
Kaman 2012-13 Stats: 66 games; 20.7 minutes per game; 10.5 ppg; 5.6 rpg
Young 2012-13 Stats: 59 games; 23.9 minutes per game; 10.6 ppg; 1.4 apg
Houston and the Lakers shared the four regular games between them last year and will be one of the most highly anticipated clashes when the 2013-14 fixtures are announced. Howard came back to haunt Orlando with a 39 point haul against them and will look to impress when he re-visits LA alongside the likes of James Harden, Omer Asik and Chandler Parsons.