Dwight Howard Leaves L.A. Lakers: Hollywood Reacts
Despite a Lakers billboard campaign encouraging Dwight Howard to stay with the franchise, the center has chosen the Houston Rockets as his next destination, USA Today first reported.
Howard confirmed the news Friday evening, tweeting:
"I've decided to become a member of the Houston Rockets. I feel its 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."
Chalk it up as a win for Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who reportedly made the first pitch to Howard after free agency began on July 1 and even enlisted Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons to make a video selling the team to the all-star center on Friday.
USA Today reports Howard will earn $88 million for four seasons. Late Friday, Howard changed his Twitter avatar to one of him wearing a Rockets uniform. In the hours before the official announcement, conflicting reports emerged, with some saying Howard was fully committed to the Rockets, while others -- including ESPN -- cited a source saying the player was "50-50" on whether he would stay with the Lakers or go to Houston.
"We have been informed of Dwight's decision to not return to the Lakers. Naturally we're disappointed," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. "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."
Lakers star Kobe Bryant responded to the announcement by posting a photo of himself and teammate Pau Gasol on Instagram, along with the words "#vamos #juntos #lakercorazon #vino."
Howard had a tumultuous run in Los Angeles, with the Lakers struggling over the course of the season, eventually sneaking into the playoffs as the seventh seed only to be swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round.
Naturally, because of the uneven season, Hollywood's initial reaction to the departing center has been mixed:
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
Am I the only one who is highly ambivalent about Dwight Howard leaving the #Lakers ?— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) July 5, 2013
Wait, check out Dwight Howard's new twitter avatar now (Photo) pic.twitter.com/oJlqjWaTUs— Eric Stangel (@EricStangel) July 6, 2013
To all of those who asked, I predicted two weeks ago and again last night that Dwight Howard would go to Houston.Do I get congrats-insight?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 6, 2013
I guess Dwight goes down as biggest bust in lakers history. And I guess lakers start 2014 as the worst team in then western conference.— Doug Ellin (@mrdougellin) July 6, 2013
Very excited to hear where Dwight Howard plans to be uninspired and not ever win a title next. (Sports tweet)— Bill Lawrence (@VDOOZER) July 6, 2013
Dwight Howard seems like the kind of decisive individual who can definitely lead you to a championship. #FiftyFifty— Shawn Ryan (@ShawnRyanTV) July 6, 2013
Brett Favre thinks Dwight Howard is really indecisive.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 6, 2013
Dwight Howard signs $100M contract to play on every NBA team for three games.— Joe Mande (@JoeMande) July 6, 2013
Dear Dwight Howard, wow, this is the hardest choice anyone had had to make." - Sophie— Brian Lynch (@BrianLynch) July 6, 2013