|ESPN.com: NBA||[Print without images]|
Dwight Howard's free-agency saga came to an end Friday. Reports from earlier this week suggested that Howard wanted to make a decision by Friday, and it appeared he had when Sam Amick of USA Today tweeted that Howard had decided on the Houston Rockets, after eliminating the Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks, Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers from contention.
Dwight Howard has chosen to sign with the Houston Rockets, @USATODAYSports has learned. Story to come. - http://t.co/eNYYg63uJo— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 5, 2013
Meanwhile, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey cautioned that nothing was final yet.
While we are excited & cautiously optimistic @DwightHoward might choose Houston, we have not yet heard about his decision— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) July 5, 2013
Despite their GM's warning, a pair of Howard's new Rockets teammates went ahead and expressed their happiness to have him on board, though Patrick Beverley -- the Rockets' current No. 12 -- later deleted his tweet.
Dwight will wear usual #12 RT @patbev21 My original number is 21 so I will be wearing 21 next season!!!! And yep we got Dwight Howard!!! Wow— SoleCollector.com (@SoleCollector) July 5, 2013
It's whooooooo!!!!!!— Gregory Smith (@Ju_Smith4) July 5, 2013
Dwight is coming to Houston!!! We ain't worried about nothing #RedNation— Gregory Smith (@Ju_Smith4) July 5, 2013
Royce White was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers to clear extra cap room for Howard, but the forward -- who didn't play in the NBA at all in 2012-13 -- had positive words for Morey and the acquisition of the All-Star center.
Me & @dmorey haven't always seen eye to eye, but you have to respect his ability to make moves like Harden & Howard, that's cool.— Royce White (@Highway_30) July 5, 2013
Others from around the NBA also chimed in on the Rockets report, including some whom Howard had spurned.
Howard to Houston the power has shifted in the west!!— Isiah Thomas (@iamisiahthomas) July 5, 2013
Damn, @slimthugga campaign strong. Dat boy good— Damien Wilkins (@dwilkins3000) July 5, 2013
Damn no D12?!— Jordan Craig Hill (@jordanchill43) July 5, 2013
Congrats doe big homie— Jordan Craig Hill (@jordanchill43) July 5, 2013
Dwight made a good decision IMO. Gets to learn from kevin mchale and hakeem olajuwan... Also a teams up with emerging superstar james hardin— Anthony Tolliver (@ATolliver44) July 6, 2013
Now Free Agency can start finally— Big Dawg (@Hoya2aPacer) July 5, 2013
Howard left Aspen, Colorado -- where he'd been staying since finishing his meetings with prospective teams -- but his destination wasn't Houston. Instead, he flew to Los Angeles, and suddenly the Lakers were back in the picture.
Source: D12 has landed in LA & told Lakers it's 50-50 btwn them and the Rockets. He's having 2nd thoughts about leaving $30 mill on table— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 6, 2013
Dwight got everybody confused— Brandon Rush (@BRush_4) July 6, 2013
Really Dwight?? Some where Mariah Carey, Diana Ross, Cher and Celine Dion shaking their heads.... #DIVA— Reggie Miller (@ReggieMillerTNT) July 6, 2013
Then the Lakers chimed in with a statement, making it clear that Dwight Howard was not headed back to Los Angeles for 2013-14.
Statement from GM Mitch Kupchak: http://t.co/FaGcAfbsMK "We have been informed of Dwight's decision to not return to the Lakers."— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) July 6, 2013
And Howard himself ended all the confusion a few minutes later.
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
Welcome to Houston @DwightHoward!!! Years of work by Dwight & Rockets went into this. This team is going to be special.— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) July 6, 2013
Kobe Bryant didn't tweet any response to Howard leaving Los Angeles, but he did unfollow Howard on Twitter and posted this on his Instagram page.
For full social media coverage of the NBA, connect with the NBA on ESPN on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.