Dwight Howard is gone from the Los Angeles Lakers, and it seems Kobe Bryant isn’t going to miss him.
Shortly after Howard informed the Lakers he wouldn’t be returning and was joining the Houston Rockets, Bryant posted a picture to his Instagram account showing himself and center Pau Gasol during a game. Bryant didn’t write anything more, but his message was clear — we’re good without you.
The Lakers as a team did have a bit to say about Howard leaving, but played it diplomatically. General Manger Mitch Kupchak issued the following statement on the team’s website:
“We have been informed of Dwight’s decision to not return to the Lakers. Naturally we’re disappointed. However, we will now move forward in a different direction with the future of the franchise and, as always, will do our best to build the best team possible, one our great Lakers fans will be proud to support. To Dwight, we thank him for his time and consideration, and for his efforts with us last season. We wish him the best of luck on the remainder of his NBA career.”
In leaving Los Angeles, Howard turned down the additional $30 million the team was able to offer over other suitors. He now joins a suddenly strong Rockets team, one that could be a strong contender for the Western Conference crown.
For Howard, it was worth giving up $30 million for a chance at an NBA championship.
“[A championship is] the priority. That’s the priority. [Shoot], I’m betting $30 million on it,” Howard told ESPNLosAngeles.com in a phone interview Friday night.
“I just looked at both teams and I felt like Houston was going in one direction — they got a lot of young players, they got a good coach in Kevin McHale and I just felt like having him as a coach, he could really help me in the post and help me develop like I want to. That was mainly the big reason right there, and having the opportunity to grow with a team, a young team, like the Rockets. That’s the reason why [I decided to leave].”
In his one season with the Lakers, Dwight Howard averaged 17.1 points and 12.4 rebounds in 76 games.