Howard finds greener grass in Houston
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
The denigration of Dwight Howard continued in the days after he decided to sign with the Houston Rockets, but that was nothing new.
Through 20 months of twists and turns in the saga we came to know as the “Dwightmare,” from Orlando to Los Angeles and finally to the July 5 day that his decision to go to the Rockets was first revealed by USA TODAY Sports, he was the target of well-deserved criticism because of the whimsical way he had gone about his career of late.
But in choosing to leave the Los Angeles Lakers and join a Rockets team that exploded on the Western Conference scene by trading for James Harden last October, he did exactly what his detractors wish he would have done so much earlier — make a clear and understandable decision about his basketball future.
All the noise about his warped priorities, all those signs that he cared more about his business than his basketball, and Howard got it right in the end by chasing the one dream so many wondered if he cared about anymore: a championship. He left nearly $30 million on the table to head for Houston, signing a four-year, $88 million deal rather than the five-year, $117 million contract the Lakers were allowed to offer. In doing so, he set the table for a revival that — if it comes to fruition — will be nearly impossible to nitpick.
It is too easily forgotten that Howard was among the walking wounded for most of his time with the Lakers. His back surgery in April 2012 left him immobile for months, and his October return, as Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak later admitted, was premature. He was there without truly being there, in other words, with his legs still tingling, his vintage bounce coming and going and physical limitations compounding the problems already present on a Lakers team that clearly lacked chemistry.
Howard will be a happier, healthier version of himself than the one we saw in that trial run in Hollywood, what with Kobe Bryant’s shadow so far away now and his younger running mates … [For more on Dwight Howard finds greener grass with Houston Rockets, click here.]