Free-agent Dwight Howard confirmed his decision to join Houston Rockets on Twitter and interviews with ESPN and said that Rockets gave him the best chance at winning his first NBA title.
“I’m betting $30 million on it,” Howard told ESPNLosAngeles.com in a phone interview Friday evening. “I just looked at both teams and I felt like Houston was going in one direction –they got a lot of young players, they got a good coach in Kevin McHale and I just felt like having him as a coach, he could really help me in the post and help me develop like I want to. That was mainly the big reason right there, and having the opportunity to grow with a team, a young team like the Rockets. That’s the reason why.”
The 6-11 All-Star center told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith on Friday night that he will sign a free-agent contract with the Rockets after the league lifts its annual moratorium on player business Wednesday.
Howard has switched his Twitter avatar to an illustrated image of him wearing the Houston Rockets jersey and changed his location to “Houston, TX.” In addition, he has posted on Twitter, “I've decided to become a member of the Houston Rockets. 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.
"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."
After graduating from Southwest Christian Academy in 2004, Howard was drafted as the overall number one draft pick and he took the Orlando Magic from 21 wins the season before to 36 wins in his rookie season.
Starting from 2006, Howard was responsible for carrying the Magic on a run of six straight playoff appearances that included the NBA Finals loss to the Lakers in 2009 and a Conference Finals loss to the Boston Celtics in 2010.
He has won three Defensive Player of the Year awards and was known as the best center in the game. Howard, 28, averaged 17.1 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 76 games last season for the Lakers.