Dwight Howard Will Join Houston Rockets

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http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nb ... s/2492347/

After 20 months of twists and turns in the Dwight Howard saga, a person with knowledge of his decision told USA TODAY Sports he will join the Houston Rockets.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because his decision had not yet been announced.

After being traded from the Orlando Magic to the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-team deal a year ago, Howard entered the summer unsure of what he might do because of the awful Lakers season that had unfolded.

DWIGHTMARE: How Howard took over free agency

His partnership with Kobe Bryant never went as planned, nor did his recovery from back surgery in April 2012 that hindered his play for most of the season.

The five-team race between the Rockets, Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks included lengthy meetings with each team in Los Angeles this week that not only would determine his final destination but also slow a free agency period that should speed up now that his decision is known.

WINNING: What Howard wanted from free agency

The practice of superstars pushing their way to greener pastures is hardly a unique concept in today's NBA, but Howard's was in a class all its own because of the seemingly endless twists and turns and his infamous indecisiveness.

With word long having spread about his growing unhappiness in Orlando during the lockout, his first public request came during training camp in Dec. 2011.

He had taken the Magic to new heights, as they went from 21 wins the season before he was taken first overall out of Southwest Christian Academy in 2004 to 36 wins in his rookie season. Then, starting in 2006, they went on a run of six straight playoff appearances that included the NBA Finals loss to the Lakers in 2009 and a Conference Finals loss to the Boston Celtics in 2010.

He won three Defensive Player of the Year awards, was known as the best center in the game, and had a fun-loving image that would be battered throughout the year to come.

But Howard wanted more, to play on the sort of stage that would help him become an icon of the sporting world. That was the word he so often came back to with those closest to him, and the one he had written on a sheet of paper that was taped to the bedroom mirror of his Bel-Air home as a reminder "Icon."

PHOTOS: How Dwight ended up here

Dwight Howard will join the Rockets next season. But that all comes after a whirlwind nine years in the NBA. Flip through this gallery for a look back at his career. Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY SportsFullscreenHoward was the top player in the country his senior season at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy. Michael A. Schwarz, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

Howard won Gatorade National Player of the Year his senior season. Michael A. Schwarz, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

When Howard was picked No. 1 overall in the 2004 NBA draft by the Magic out of high school, he still had braces. Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

Howard had veteran teammates to guide him as a rookie, as Grant Hill does here Oct. 6, 2004, during a preseason practice. John Raoux, APFullscreen

Howard, particularly early in his career, was criticized for his lack of finesse on the offense end. Here, he bulldozes past Hawks center Jason Collier as a rookie Nov. 26, 2004. Gregory Smith, APFullscreen

Howard was drawing regular double-teams by his second season in the NBA. Julie Jacobson, APFullscreen

Howard developed his rebounding skill at an early age, averaging a double-double as a 19-year-old rookie. He led the NBA in rebounds per game four times in his final five seasons with the Magic. Eric Gay, APFullscreen

Howard shows off his headphones during part of the Team USA tour before the 2006 FIBA World Championship. Samantha Sin, AFP/Getty ImagesFullscreen

Howard made his Team USA major-competition debut during the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan. Mark J. Terrill, APFullscreen

Howard and company brought home the gold medal at the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japana. Mark J. Terrill, APFullscreen

Howard had 20 points and 12 rebounds in the 2007 All-Star Game, which drew attention and led to him being voted in as a starter every season since. Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

Before being beset by injuries in recent seasons, Howard was one of the most reliable big men in the NBA. He played all 82 games in each of his first four seasons and only missed seven in his first seven combined. Paul Connors, APFullscreen

Howard worked with Magic assistant Patrick Ewing for years on his post skills and defense. Todd A. Anderson, for USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

Howard's Superman-themed dunk during the 2008 dunk contest won him the title and remains one of the most iconic moments in contest history. Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

Howard played with current Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant for Team USA in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, winning his only Olympic gold medal. Greg Pearson, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

Howard reportedly had a $7.8 million home in Orlando. Preston C. Mack, for USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

Howard played with current Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant for Team USA in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, winning his only Olympic gold medal. Greg Pearson, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

Howard's 6-11, 270-pound frame combined with his spectacular athleticism makes him nearly impossible to defend. Michael Perez, APFullscreen

Howard and Jameer Nelson watch as the Magic lose Game 5 of the 2009 NBA Finals to the Lakers. Orlando lost twice in overtime during the five-game series. John Raoux, APFullscreen

Howard's marketability hinges on his incredible physique and fun personality, shown as he flexes with tennis star Venus Williams. EA Sports, via Getty ImagesFullscreen

Fouling Howard has long been an ideal defensive strategy because he can't shoot free throws well. Phelan M. Ebenhack, APFullscreen

Howard is among the NBA's best shot-blockers, leading the NBA in 2008-09 and 2009-10. He won defensive player of the year honors both of those seasons and in 2010-11. Charles Krupa, APFullscreen

In Orlando, Howard was the smiling face of the franchise for eight seasons. Scott A. Miller, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

Shaquille O'Neal didn't shown much respect to Howard as a player and still doesn't as an analyst. Both were No. 1 picks by the Magic who then went to the Lakers, both centers known for their strength and athleticism, both Superman enthusiasts. Greg M. Cooper, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

The Magic brought back Hedo Turkoglu in 2011 with hopes of keeping Howard, but they never quite found the same page they had been on during their five seasons together from 2004 through 2009. Chuck Burton, APFullscreen

Howard's last season in Orlando was full of frustration, vented at his balky back, his mediocre teammates, franchise executives and more. Derick E. Hingle, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

Howard and coach Stan Van Gundy didn't see eye-to-eye on many issues, and both ended up getting booted from the Magic in the 2012 offseason. Michael Perez, APFullscreen

Howard watched the end of the 2011-12 season, his last with the Magic, from the sideline after having back surgery to repair a herniated disk. Geoff Burke, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

After months of speculation, the Magic dealt Howard to the Lakers in a four-team August 2012 trade. The Lakers gave up center Andrew Bynum for him, while the Magic received a package of players including former 76ers center Nikola Vucevic and Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo. Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

The trade produced more news media coverage than anything else in the 2012 offseason. Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

Howard shows off the muscle frame that makes him arguably the strongest player in the NBA during his first Lakers media day Oct. 1, 2012. Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

Howard's Lakers debut was delayed until late in the preseason, Oct. 21, 2012, against the Kings, because of his lingering back issues. Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

Howard's first half-season with the Lakers was uncharacteristically poor, with his numbers and efficiency down across the board. Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

Howard and Kobe Bryant formed a tenuous alliance for the Lakers, not showing much chemistry on or off the court. Kirby Lee, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

One of Howard's highlights in his first season with the Lakers was making the second three-pointer of his career Nov. 30, 2012. Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

Howard's free throw woes reached new lows in 2011-12 and 2012-13, as back issues dropped his percentage to below 50%. Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

Howard struggled with shoulder injuries, aggravating his torn tendon Jan. 30, 2012, against the Suns. Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

Howard and point guard Steve Nash joined the Lakers in the 2012 offseason but spent much of the first half of the season unable to play together because of injuries. Kirby Lee, USA TODAY SportsFullscreen

Like this topic? You may also like these photo galleries:Replay

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Last SlideNext SlideSo his list of preferred destinations would soon be widely known, with the then-soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets a clear favorite and the Lakers and Dallas Mavericks seen as distant backup options. There were months of trade talk updates both real and contrived, followed by the surreal All-Star weekend in Orlando in which Howard was the host who had one foot out the door. It was the perfect storm of media madness, Howard facing relentless questioning about his future while trying to explain the difference between loving a town and loving a team.

As the March 2012 trade deadline neared, the Nets were closing in on a deal and it looked as if his vision of pairing with point guard Deron Williams in Brooklyn would become reality. Until, of course, Howard would make the stunning and puzzling decision that complicated it all.

By deciding to opt in with the Magic for last season a choice that he credited to loyalty but that also allowed him to keep open the possibility of a five-year maximum contract as opposed to four the 'Dwightmare' was painfully prolonged.

It would all unravel a month later with the most memorable moment of them all, when then-Magic coach Stan Van Gundy candidly told the local media that Howard wanted him fired and, seconds later, felt the affectionate embrace of Howard as he walked up unknowingly and draped his right arm around his coach.

A month later, Van Gundy and then-general manager Otis Smith would be ousted. Three months later, and after the Nets' possibility would come and go countless times, Howard was dealt to the Lakers in the four-team trade that seemed to answer the questions about his future.

Clippers_FTW
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Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports 6:01 p.m. EDT July 5, 2013

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Stay out of LA.. this is our town!

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