Compiling the "Reasons" Dwight Howard Left Lakers for Houston Rockets
What's not as highly publicized are all the reasons he left the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the most storied franchises in all of professional sports.
Despite the allure of L.A., the chance of future championships with Kobe Bryant, and the team looking at substantial cap room after the following season, Howard spurned the Lakers for H-town.
So, why did D12 do this to a team as attractive as the Lakers and join a Rockets team that hasn't won a title in almost 20 years?
Let's take a look.
Reason No. 1: Mike D'Antoni
Mike D'Antoni is a wonderful coach to play for, unless you value defense.
Even after the hire of D'Antoni, the Lakers were slow to turn things around and barely made the playoffs before getting swept in the first round.
Howard had this to say, per Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles:
I think that we had our moments, but I think that his style was a little bit different than what I was accustomed to, but I don't want to blame any of that on the coach as the reason why I'm leaving.
Howard doesn't want to say it publicly, but D'Antoni most definitely played a major role in his decision.
His offensive system never was a great fit for Howard, who averaged his lowest point total (17.1 per game) since 2005-06.
Reason No. 2: Unhappy with Marketing?
Superstars in the NBA are all about the dollar outside of the arena.
It appears that Howard is no different, and he expressed concern over his sponsorship money and marketing with the Lakers.
From ESPN Los Angeles:
Howard also didn't feel especially close with anyone in the Lakers' organization outside of general manager Mitch Kupchak, sources said. One source added that Howard had concerns about how the Lakers planned to market him after being disappointed with the franchise in that aspect last season.
On that note, the Rockets have one of the biggest fan followings around the world.
With Yao Ming and Jeremy Lin having sported the Houston red and white, the Rockets are extremely popular in China, a nation which has a love for basketball that's continually growing. According to Yahoo! Sports, the Rockets are the most televised NBA franchise in China, with data showing that nearly 300 million regular-season viewers watched Houston on CCTV 5 this season.
While Los Angeles is one of the biggest U.S. markets, Houston's global outreach may have been a deciding factor for Howard.
Reason No. 3: Age of Supporting Cast
A strong supporting cast and the chance at winning a championship had to be way up there on Howard's wish list.
When looking at the Lakers, they're led by Kobe Bryant (34), Pau Gasol (33) and Steve Nash (39).
Taking a peak at Houston's roster reveals a much more youthful group with a lot of upside.
James Harden (23), Chandler Parsons (24) and Jeremy Lin (24) represent a better core for Howard (27) to grow with.
Houston finished with the same record as the Lakers last season, even without Howard, and appear destined to make a significant leap in the Western Conference after landing Dwight.
Harden was the key piece, as the former Sixth Man of the Year blossomed into one of the NBA's best scorers this past season. Harden may never become the player Kobe is, and for Howard, that might be a good thing.
Reason No. 4: Tax Free Is the Way to Be
It's true that the Lakers could have offered Howard a longer and more lucrative contract, but there are certain perks to living in Texas.
In his eight seasons with the Orlando Magic, Howard didn't have to pay any state tax while living in Florida. The same holds true for Texas, which also doesn't require residents to dish out the extra tax dollars that most states do.
In California, state tax can reach as high as 9.25 percent, according to taxrates.com.
This would mean Howard would have to pay back nearly $10 million on a $107 million max contract, had he signed with the Lakers.
There may have been another reason for Howard to leave California, writes Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register. He claims high child support rates in California and Howard's off-court activities may have helped Dwight choose to leave as well.
We'll leave that one alone and just assume Howard was focused on saving money for his children's college funds instead.
Reason No. 5: Taking Control from Kobe
Dwight Howard wanted the Lakers to be his team.
It appears Kobe Bryant wasn't about to let that happen anytime soon.
Even though Bryant has just one year left on his contract, he recently told Melissa Rohlin of the Los Angeles Times that he could play another three or four years.
This is probably just what Howard was afraid to hear.
From an article on ESPNLosAngeles.com:
Sources told ESPN.com that Howard and his representatives -- in a handful of meetings with Lakers officials before he became a free agent July 1 -- strongly suggested the center would have a difficult time re-signing with the team if Bryant stayed with the franchise beyond the 2013-14 season, the final year of his contract.
Bryant appears to want to play a few more seasons, and it would be hard to imagine him leaving the Lakers.
Howard would just have to accept that—something he appeared unwilling to do.