Howard Picks Houston!



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Dwight Howard will chase his championships in Houston, not Los Angeles, Dallas or anywhere else the prized free-agent center was rumored to be headed in recent weeks.

The word came down Friday evening, first reported by Sam Amick of USA Today Sports. Howard’s agent, Dan Fegan, told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports Sports that his client was in still finalizing his decision and “He hopes to finalize his decision tonight or tomorrow morning.”

But two sources familiar with the situation confirmed to NBA.com that Houston is indeed Howard’s choice. This ends a nearly two-year drama for Howard, who would sign a four-year, $89 million deal with the Rockets on July 10. Howard could have signed a five-year, $118 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, the only team that could offer him that fifth year and extra $30 million.

Late Friday night, after a face-to-face meeting with Howard, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak confirmed it for anyone thinking there was a chance Howard would change his mind:

The Rockets made the first presentation to Howard, just minutes after free agency began at 12:01 a.m. ET on July 1. The Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks and the incumbent Lakers followed up that presentation over the course of the next two days.

Howard’s lone season with the Lakers got off to a tumultuous start, head coach Mike Brown was fired five games into the season and replaced by Mike D’Antoni, who never seemed to find common ground with Howard. A summer that began with so much promise, the acquisitions of both Howard and two-time MVP Steve Nash to go along with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, bottomed out into a seventh-seed in the Western Conference playoff chase and first-round elimination at the hands of the eventual Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs.

Howard was coming off of back surgery and didn’t appear to get back into regular form until late in the season, but long after the Lakers’ championship dreams had faded. Bryant’s season-ending Achilles injury just before the playoffs began was the final dagger.

The Rockets won the recruiting battle for Howard and now they have to finish their summer work, the next piece of business being their pursuit and acquisition of Howard’s long-time friend and fellow Atlanta native Josh Smith, who is mulling over his free-agent options right now as well.

Smith, who conducted his own round of in-face meetings with teams in Los Angeles earlier this week as well, is believed to be favoring the Detroit Pistons, whose plans for the combo forward were laid out before he and his representatives met with the Rockets. But the Hawks have interest in Houston center Omer Asik, who one source told NBA.com would be the linchpin to any potential sign-and-trade deal between the two teams.

With Howard, a four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and the league’s reigning rebounding champ, and potentially Smith alongside All-Star shooting James Harden, versatile swingman Chandler Parsons and point guard Jeremy Lin, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey will have assembled a core group capable of challenging the Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Clippers and Warriors for supremacy in the Western Conference in 2013-14 and beyond.

“That’s a team that competes for championships, if not right away, certainly in the next two or three years,” said an Eastern Conference executive after hearing of Howard’s choice. “It didn’t work out with the Lakers and that group they had. But he’ll have a coach that will do wonders for him in Kevin McHale and group around him that will make things extremely difficult on anyone that focuses on Dwight in the paint. They’re going to give people fits.”

22 Comments

  1. Eaglos says:

    That was the second best piece of news after Kobe’s injury.
    Now Lakers would really have to make future plans with pro-
    per players not potential superstars or battered veterans

  2. GORAPTORS1957 says:

    YESSSSS! He’s out of LA!

  3. dre says:

    This is a good move by the rockets hope they will see results. By by La no more play off for the next ten years. Kobe retire now leave with a winning season don’t be like Paul an Kg now traded next year that will be you and Pau. Am just saying

  4. GoMavs says:

    2013 Rockets= 8TH SEED Lose in first round
    2014 Rockets= Do you really think that they will be DOMINATE with the addition of a center that doesn’t know how to post up?????????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. IAMIDIOT says:

    DAM YOU SHELDON COOPER ITS YOUR FAULT…LOL

  6. Nore says:

    Just as expected. With Harden, Parsons there are two guys in Houston that are young and on there rise up even if anybody would have to say that they even are pretty good right know. Especially Harden should be a multiple all star in the years to come. I think that and the fact that Howard will learn much from either Hekeem and Mitch are factors that he couldnt say no to. Just like Barkley said basketball wise it was definetaly the best desicion he could make. There is also the fact that he wont have to pay taxes like when he stayed in L.A even if man has to say that money wise no one could have offered him more than the Lakers. Im kind of curious right now because ATlanta signed Milsap and it smells like a sign and trade deal between Houston and ATL – Atl will get Asik + 1 and Houston will get Josh Smith!! Would be banging!!! Howard + J Smooth + Harden = NEW BIG BIG 3 :)))). + Chandler Parsons – definately better than a roll player even if hes not star caliber yet. But that would be interesting – first a battle between OKC and Houston in the western conference finals. And then to see Miami in the finals against one of them. Not a fan of Houston or Miami it just would be interesting. I think to it was the best desicion he could make – and this comes from a fan of NYC, OKC and the Bulls. Good Luck in Houston – hopefully your long time friend J Smooth can join you there.

  7. knicksfan33 says:

    rockets shouldnt sign josh smith now because when d12 was with pau they didnt play good together. therefore , d12 shouldnt play with a star PF

  8. lakers4ever says:

    see ya dwight dont need you the orginization will be be fine trust me !!!

  9. WOW says:

    WOW man he is still not getting a ring

  10. LALforver says:

    three team sign a trade for cousins…. worth way more than dwight….for cousins and marcus thorton will be a nice sign and trade for diwght

  11. Dwightmare says:

    Finally over in LA!

  12. phil says:

    Good job Howard. The Lakers are going to look like the raiders of the 2k generation. Al Davis, i mean Jim Buss just does whatever strokes his ego and you saw that when he hired one trick pony dantoni over the greatest coach ever and gave nash that contract. Signing with them would have wasted your career. If I was kobe i would jump ship.

  13. Rusty says:

    Good for the Lakers…. It’s time to move on.. and get the real core of championship team… Never liked Howard at all at LA.

  14. Realist2013 says:

    The Rockets GM was talked about for butchering his roster the year before going after Howard and in that time he’s acquired James Harden and Howard, Chandler Parsons, and potentially Josh Smith is next to be in his sights. They have a young core that if they can stay together be a force. Love to see who else they get to surround this group. Add a PF in that mix and I’d say they have all bases covered. Now it’ll be about Cohesion and getting used to each others style of play

  15. boswell says:

    This article says HOUSTON will challenge SAN ANTONIO MEMPHIS GOLDEN STATE and OKC for supremacy in the WEST. Are the CLIPPERS CHOPPED LIVER? I think when their roster is completely filled out, and with a little luck, LAC might be above most of those teams next year…. Houston and Golden State have improved. VERY TIGHT RACES IN THE WEST. Lakers are toast for 2013-14

    • Vlad says:

      Agree!! Lakers are toast for 2013-14 season and hopefully the Sacramento Kings take their place and surprise everyone and make the it deep into the Playoffs!!

    • Unkle Daddy says:

      Yes they are chopped liver, with out another real player besides Paul, Griffin stinks, Hey I can jump…! (Great, grab a rebound, block a shot, add another dimension to your game) I’m rooting for you to get better.

  16. gtr28 says:

    This free agency spectacle for D12 has been ongoing for 2 years…I have to admit it that this will no longer be the topic of discussion for at least 4-5 more seasons for D12…a sigh of relief for the whole NBA for the first time in a long time. Next free agency head ache will be the LBJ sweepstakes.

  17. Skonek says:

    i think it will work better for Howard in houston. McHale is more a big man coach.
    I wish Dwight the best. Go D12 !

    @There’s a mistake. Dwight is 3-time Defensive player of the year.