Houston (CBS Houston)– More than a week after the Rockets learned they won the Dwight Howard sweepstakes he officially signed a four-year, $88 million contract with Houston.
Howard’s defection from the Los Angeles Lakers is one of the biggest free agent signings in Rockets history. The seven-time all-star and three-time defensive player of the year left an extra $30 million on the table when he walked away from Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.
“There’s no looking back, I made the right decision, I made a tough decision, but I’ve made a lot of sacrifices to get here today and I’m just ready.” said Howard.
Even though the Lakers could offer Howard more money, Rockets Owner Les Alexander knew the Rockets had more to give.
“Happiness is really part of it. If you can be a great player and you can’t be happy, what difference does it make.”
While reporters got their chance to meet Howard inside the Toyota Center, the real party was outside where former Rocket greats Yao Ming, Hakeem Olajuwon, Ralph Sampson, Clyde Drexler, and Calvin Murphy all greeted the newest Rocket.
Thousands of screaming fans endured the July heat just to get a glimpse of Howard, and for good reason, they could be witnessing the start of something special.
“When you have a big man like (Howard), a dominant big man with a team that’s already established like the Rockets, I think you can truly say it’s a championship contender.” said Hakeem Olajuwon.
The parade atmosphere was capped off with the unveiling of a large banner reading “Legacy of Bigs” on the Toyota Center parking garage.
In order to sign Howard to a maximum free-agent contract Daryl Morey waived both James Anderson and Tim Ohlbrecht to create cap space.
He also said the team plans to officially sign Francisco Garcia, Omri Casspi, and draft choice Isaiah Canaan sometime next week.
Morey also added he doesn’t expect either Jeremy Lin or Omer Asik to be moved anytime soon.