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The Houston Rockets have been chasing Dwight Howard for quite some time. When he wanted out of Orlando, the team feverishly put together pieces to try to strike a deal. When he ended up in Los Angeles, Houston did whatever it took to prepare themselves to make an offer D12 couldn't refuse.
Finally, over the summer, the Rockets got their man. Since the early retirement of Yao Ming, the Rockets have been desperate for someone to fill the void inside. It seemed only right that they do so with the best center in the game.
Howard signed with Houston for $88 million over four years. His arrival is huge for multiple reasons. First, a team desperate to improve defensively is getting one of the best rim protectors in the game. Second, he gives Houston another elite talent to go along with James Harden and Chandler Parsons.
Lastly, Howard's departure from Los Angeles is one of the rare instances of a star in his prime (a big man, no less) leaving the bright lights of Hollywood for greener pastures elsewhere.
The acquisition of Howard came with some risk. For the two seasons prior, D12 dealt with injuries and a seemingly never-ending amount of drama that spanned over two cities. How would he fit in Houston after the carnage he created in Orlando and LA?
How It Looks So Far
Howard has shown signs of being the Dwight of old. His 17.9 points per game are second only to James Harden's 24 points a night. He's third in the NBA in rebounding with an average of 13.1 boards per contest.
Defensively, he's contributing 1.8 blocks per game. As he grows more comfortable with the team, the Rockets will only become more formidable. Two months into the season, he's been healthy and smiling. There's been no spats with coach Kevin McHale or any PR nightmares.
The only person who has taken issue with Howard's arrival is former starter Omer Asik, who has asked for a trade numerous times since the team signed the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.
Howard's first season in Houston hasn't been perfect, however. He's still a liability at the free-throw line, converting just 55 percent this season.
Still, as with any high-profile team, the Rockets will inevitably be judged on how they fare in the playoffs. With a solid starting rotation and good depth, there isn't much holding this team back from making some noise.
Howard has carried a team to the Finals before. Houston is paying him to help do it once more.