Dwight Howard has agreed to sign with the Houston Rockets.
Last month, Kobe Bryant said he hoped that the Lakers would re-sign Howard, and praised his teammate’s abilities.
“Those guys are hard to find, they don’t grow on trees. When you have someone like that with his talent level, you have to be able to keep him and lock him in with this franchise,” he said.
Bryant added, “I know he’s got a big decision to make and I’m sure he’ll take the visits and talk to the players on the teams he’s considering. We’ll touch base a lot more.”
The 27-year-old center was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in August 2012 after playing for the Orlando Magic for eight years. He had undergone surgery to repair a herniated disk in April, forcing him to miss the rest of the season and the Summer Olympics in London. At the time, he had requested to be traded to the Nets, who had just relocated to Brooklyn.
Howard was out for six months after the surgery, and only had four weeks of training camp and the preseason to prepare for the 2012-13 season with his new team. He started in all 76 of his games played, finishing the season with 17.1 points per game.
A seven-time All-Star and three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Howard was chosen as the Orlando Magic’s first overall pick in the 2004 draft. He chose the number 12 for his jersey because it was the reverse of Kevin Garnett’s 21 when he played for the Minnesota Timberwolves. In his first season, he took the team from 21 wins the year before to 36. Starting in 2006, the Magic went on a run of six straight playoff appearances, including a trip to the Finals in 2009 (which they lost to the Lakers) and a Conference Finals appearance against the Boston Celtics in 2010.