Dwight Howard is running out of chances.
That might seem strange considering he is only 27-years old and is arguably the best center in the league. The Orlando Magic was his team, and the city was his playground. In 2009, he pulled an Allen Iverson and took a team that had no business making a title run all the way to the Finals.
As his stock and game continued to grow, his teammates began to focus more attention on him than their own games. Management dropped the ball on free agents, and Dwight grew frustrated with it all and wanted out.
Faking an injury is the same as quitting on your teammates and friends. As badly as he wanted out, I believe they wanted him out just the same. In 2012, the Howard sweepstakes began. It seemed that every day, there was some trade speculation concerning Howard.
He put out a list of teams he wanted to play for, with hopes that the team he just scorned was going to do him a favor and grant him his wish. The Magic, Brooklyn Nets, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers were the teams on his shortlist of destinations. The Lakers won the Howard sweepstakes and thought they were getting the Howard of old, which was the wrong assessment.
To say Dwight was not happy in Los Angeles would be the understatement of the century. The problem might have been Howard, Kobe Bryant or Mike D’Antoni. The mega team never came to fruition and Howard wanted out. The Lakers put on the full court press to keep Howard, but I believe they didn’t care if he stayed or left. If Kobe doesn’t want you, then you are gone.
Howard decided he wanted to take his talents to the Houston Rockets. He took a good hard look at the Lakers roster and figured their time was over. He wanted something he never had before — teammates that compliment him. James Harden will keep teams from sagging down on him in the lane and open opportunities up for his dominant post moves. This acquisition for the Rockets will transform their team into contenders not only in the Western Conference, but the NBA as a whole.
Last season, the Rockets were a run-and-gun, fast-breaking and 3-point shooting team. They did not offer too much on the defensive end, but Howard will try his best to change that. Howard averaged 17 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks per game, and that was a down year. He was not motivated.
This year, Howard will be on a mission to prove his critics wrong and show the Lakers what they are missing. Howard has the tools, coaching an the teammates to take the Rockets deep into the playoffs this season. It will all come down to whether he wants to lead a team or for a team to lead him.