Report: Howard Chooses Houston; UPDATE: Lakers Confirm Howard Not Returning
UPDATE: Los Angeles Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak released this statement on Friday night, confirming that Howard has finally informed the team that he will not be returning to Los Angeles:
"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. 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."
UPDATE: ESPN is reporting that the mercurial center is now "50-50" on whether to leave the Lakers and is reconsidering his apparent decision to join the Houston Rockets.
Former Lakers center Dwight Howard has reportedly chosen to join the Houston Rockets after being courted by five teams.
The biggest question of the NBA offseason was reportedly answered on Friday when a "person with knowledge of the decision" told USA Today that the mercurial but extremely talented center has chosen to join the Houston Rockets, where he will team with dynamic James Harden and try to win a championship immediately.
Howard spent last year playing for the Los Angeles Lakers and his personality never fit in with Kobe Bryant's. The intense Bryant often clashed with Howard on and off the court, and Howard never really embraced the Laker traditions. To be fair to Howard, he did play last season immediately after recovering from serious back surgery, but he never fit in Laker coach Mike D'Antoni's system and his leadership abilities were called into question.
The Dallas Mavericks, Lakers, Golden State Warriors, and the Atlanta Hawks courted Howard in the offseason.