Monday, December 18, 2017
Sports

Howard chooses Houston Rockets

Dwight Howard is joining the Rockets, leaving the Lakers after just one season to chase championships in Houston.

"I've decided to become a member of the Houston Rockets. I feel (it's) the best place for me and I am excited about joining the Rockets and I'm looking forward to a great season," Howard wrote on Twitter late Friday. "I want to thank the fans in Los Angeles and wish them the best."

Howard can sign with Houston for four years, $88 million, when free agents are allowed to sign Wednesday. But if he stayed with the Lakers, he could make another $30 million and get another year.

Howard told ESPN he believes he is closer to a championship ring in Houston. "I'm betting $30 million on it," he was quoted as saying.

Ultimately Howard wanted to get away from an offense under coach Mike D'Antoni that he never was fully comfortable with.

"Naturally we're disappointed," Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said. "However, we will now move forward in a different direction."

Howard joins a Rockets team that could become an immediate contender in the Western Conference, teaming him with All-Star James Harden for an inside-out combo.

"This team is going to be special," Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted.

USA Today and other major media outlets reported earlier Friday that Howard would join the Rockets, but that didn't quite end the saga. ESPN reported Howard landed in Los Angeles and was "50-50" between the Lakers and Rockets. Howard then spoke with Lakers officials, setting off a report he was changing his mind. Turns out he just saying goodbye in person.

The deal can't become official until Wednesday, after next season's salary cap has been set.

Stevens awed by Celtics: Brad Stevens said he had no desire to leave Butler, until the Celtics called. Seventeen championships. Bill Russell. Red Auerbach. It was all too much for Stevens, 36, to resist. Boston introduced its 17th coach at a news conference, with president of basketball operations Danny Ainge saying Stevens was his first choice to replace Doc Rivers. "The Boston Celtics, like, wow; that is an incredible feeling … It's certainly flattering," said Stevens, who received a six-year deal worth a reported $22 million.

Elsewhere: Nuggets free agent Andre Iguodala reached agreement with Golden State on a $48 million, four-year deal. The Warriors cleared more than $24 million in salary cap space by sending Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and Brandon Rush to the Jazz, along with a 2014 first-round draft pick and the Warriors' 2017 first-rounder.

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Published: 12/17/17