Dwight Howard spent the better part of the last two seasons teasing myriad teams about where he would end up spending the next half decade of his career. A tumultuous year off the court led to a huge trade in the summer of 2012 that landed Howard in Los Angeles. An equally tumultuous year on the court with the Lakers left his free-agency up in the air.
While the Lakers took a calculated risk in bringing in Howard without knowing if he would re-sign with the franchise, that risk turned out to be a huge hit to the future of the Lakers organization. Howard ended up leaving Hollywood for Houston, and today he was introduced to the city that hosted this year’s All-Star Game.
“Our goal is to win a championship,” said Howard, who looked more comfortable speaking to reporters in Houston than he ever had at any point while in Los Angeles. “And we will strive for that every day.”
Howard signed to a four-year, $88 million contract, and as currently constructed, this manifestation of the Houston Rockets will be Howard’s best shot at a title since the 2009 season when he put the Orlando Magic on his back and led them to the Finals, only to lose to the Lakers in five games.
Howard will be the center peace of a team featuring James Harden (acquired from the Thunder), Jeremy Lin, and Chandler Parsons. And it was Parsons who Howard should be receiving all of the credit for getting him to Houston.
“The guy you should be thanking is Timberlake,” said Howard of Parsons with a smile on his face. “He’s been blowing my phone up.”
The team may be the best he’s been on, but Rockets general manager Darrel Morey was adamant that his work was not done in terms of building around their new all-star center. I will be tireless to do what this team needs to put the best around Dwight and James,” said Morey.
The Howard press conference opened up with Leslie Alexander introducing Rockets big-man legends. Elvin Hayes and Ralph Sampson stepped out before Hakeem Olajuwon and Yao Ming also walked onto the dais.
If the Rockets have their way, Howard will one day become one of the big men on their ostensible pantheon of legends. Howard will be the anchor of their defense, and a great addition to an already dynamic offense. It’ll be fascinating to see what Howard is able to do with Harden, Lin and Parsons this season.