Dwight Chooses Houston

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Updated: 7/05/2013 10:40 pm
Dwight Howard is Houston-bound, after all.

The All-Star center told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith on Friday night that he will sign a free-agent contract with the Rockets after the league lifts its annual moratorium on player business Wednesday.

Howard confirmed his decision on Twitter.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said Howard informed the organization that he would not return to Los Angeles.

"We have been informed of Dwight's decision to not return to the Lakers," Kupchak said in a statement on the team's website. "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."

The Lakers now have little choice but to focus their efforts on the blockbuster summer of 2014, Tom Haberstroh writes.

Earlier, a source told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard that Howard had landed in Los Angeles and contacted the Lakers, telling them he was 50-50 on his decision to sign with either them or the Rockets.

Howard's call to the Lakers came hours after a person from his camp informed the team that he would not re-sign with Los Angeles, according to the source.

"He changed his mind," the source said. "Hey, he's Dwight. What can you say."

The source said Howard had a possible change of heart because of the extra $30 million he would be leaving on the table if he signed with Houston.

The Lakers could have given Howard a five-year deal worth $118 million while Houston can only offer $88 million over four years.

A Lakers source in the team's pitch meeting for Howard last Tuesday said they felt Howard had essentially "made up his mind" before even meeting with them and described him as "emotionless."

"He would barely look us in the eye," the source said.

Another Lakers source said "we felt like we were wasting our time" in the meeting.

Howard told an additional source that the main reason he was leaving the Lakers is because he wasn't comfortable playing for coach Mike D'Antoni, a source told ESPN.

Howard also did not want to play 3-4 more years as a sidekick on Kobe Bryant's team, a source said, especially in a D'Antoni system that would rely heavily on 39-year-old point guard Steve Nash.

Earlier Friday, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban confirmed the Mavs were fully out of contention for Howard. The Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks also were told they were out of the running for Howard, a source told ESPNLosAngeles.com. All three teams, as well as the Lakers and Rockets, had met with Howard earlier this week.

By going to Houston, Howard will leave $9.3 million on the table in net guaranteed dollars, because he could have received a five-year deal and more money from the Lakers, rather than the four-year maximum deal he will get by signing with another team. This assumes that Howard will be a resident of Texas instead of California, since Texas has no state income taxes, while California has the highest state income taxes in the country.

Comparing just the first four years of what the Lakers could pay Howard with what the Rockets likely will pay him, Howard will net $2.6 million more after taxes in Houston if he becomes a Texas resident.
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