The Dwightmare is over if you are a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, Dwight Howard has turned down the team’s offer and instead signed with the Houston Rockets. The decision of where Howard would eventually land took over the NBA world, becoming easily the biggest story of free agency this off season.
Yesterday, Dwight announced his decision via his Twitter page.
I’ve decided to become a member of the Houston Rockets. I feel its the best place for me and I am excited (cont) http://t.co/h8WK4yP3zB
— Dwight Howard (@DwightHoward) July 6, 2013
Despite turning his back on the team just a day after he said that staying in Los Angeles was not out of the question, the talented big man thanked the Lakers’ fans on an extended version of the above Tweet. “I want to thank the fans in Los Angeles and wish them the best,” he said.
The Lakers announced Howard’s decision not to rejoin their team in a press release Friday, despite Dwight telling the world the Lakers were still in play earlier. “We have been informed of Dwight’s decision to not return to the Lakers. Naturally we’re disappointed. 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.’’
A source earlier Friday had contacted ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard and informed him “that Howard had contacted the Lakers, telling them he was 50-50 on his decision to sign with either them or the Rockets,” according to ESPN.com.
The source later explained how a decision was made so quickly in what he had reported to be a 50-50 decision. “He changed his mind. Hey, he’s Dwight. What can you say.”
With Dwight Howard signing with the Rockets, the Dwightmare is finally over for the Lakers. After acquiring the talented big man last year in a four team trade, he struggled to get in a rhythm with the rest of the team. Chemistry with Kobe Bryant and the rest of the Lakers seemed to be impossible for Howard to attain.
Many believe this was due to feeling like he was playing second fiddle to Kobe Bryant. He also was said to not like Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni’s system. The fact that the Lakers offense revolved around an almost 40 year old Steve Nash didn’t appeal to him either.
Howard denies these were the reasons for his departure. Denying his decision had anything to do with the Lakers and everything to do with the Rockets, Howard explained “that was not a factor” in a statement. “I just felt like everything in Houston was right for me. It’s a great opportunity. Me and James Harden together I think can be really, really unbelievable. We get the opportunity to really grow together. I’ve been a superstar in this league and I feel like me and him together can just really grow and be a dominant force together in the NBA as long as we’re healthy. That was really the key to me. It had nothing to do with what Kobe did.”
Desiring nothing more than than an NBA title, Howard is gambling a lot of money by signing with the Rockets over Los Angeles. About $30 million to be more precise. That is the difference in what the Lakers and Rockets could offer the big man to sign with their respective teams.
Howard explained his choice to sacrifice money and go to Houston over Los Angeles in an interview with ESPNLosAngeles.com. Speaking of a championship he said:
“That’s the priority. [Shoot], I’m betting $30 million on it. 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 [I decided to leave].”
The Lakers have to be disappointed that Howard signed with the Rockets, however the Dwightmare is now officially over and the team can get on with business as usual. The team and its fans pulled every string possible to convince the big man to return, setting up billboards and campaigning on Twitter.
Efforts to convince Howard to stay proved unsuccessful however and as a result the Dwightmare has ended and Howard has become a member of the Houston Rockets. He will be the star figure in Houston, and out from Kobe’s shadow. Pairing up with talented players such as James Harden will enable him to be a contender with the Rockets and chase after the NBA title he desires so badly.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express