For a second on Friday afternoon, it seemed like NBA Free Agent Dwight Howard had a home. According to USA Today’s Sam Amick, Howard had selected the Houston Rockets as his next destination in professional basketball.
However, Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported soon after Amick that Howard’s agent Dan Fegan says that no final decision has been made yet and that Dwight hopes to have a decision made by Friday night or Saturday morning. Reports later came out from several sources, most notably Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld, that Dwight was headed to Los Angeles to meet with Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak.
After all of the confusion and uncertainty, though, Howard has indeed landed with the Rockets. Wojnarowski reports that Dwight’s flight to L.A. was to inform Kupchak that he wouldn’t be returning to the Lakers. Howard’s new avatar on Twitter, featuring him in a Rockets uniform, and a subsequent tweet from him confirmed the decision.
Dwight’s tweet, posted via TwitLonger, reads: “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. I want to thank the fans in Los Angeles and wish them the best.”
Many people have speculated over recent days and weeks that the Rockets were the favorites to land Howard in the sweepstakes that included the Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks and, until earlier today ago, the Dallas Mavericks. Golden State and Atlanta later received the same news as the Mavericks.
If Howard were to head to Houston, he would be joining an incredibly young and talented core in Houston, headlined by James Harden and with fine young players like Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley there to compliment Howard and Harden.
There are also rumblings that big man Omer Asik wants out of Houston and is demanding a trade. ESPN’s Chris Broussard tossed around the idea of a sign-and-trade with the Hawks that would send Asik and possibly Lin to Atlanta for another highly coveted free agent, Josh Smith. Wojnarowski has also talked Asik trade rumors, bringing in the New Orleans Pelicans as a potential landing spot for Asik in exchange for Ryan Anderson. There is no deal done, though, regarding those reports, for the time being at least.
Despite dealing with a multitude of injuries and a relatively tumultuous situation in Los Angeles last season, Howard was still able to put up 17.1 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game on 57.8 percent shooting. In his last non-lockout season with the Orlando Magic in 2010-2011, Howard put up 22.9 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game on 59.3 percent shooting.
When healthy, Howard is almost unquestionably the best center in the game of basketball. Assuming that he makes a full recovery, adding him to an already promising roster in Houston, a team that made the playoffs in the loaded Western Conference last season, makes them a potential contender for the 2014 NBA Championship.
The basketball watching population can rest easy tonight, though. The Dwightmare is over.