“I’ve decided to become a member of the Houston Rockets. I feel (it’s) the best place for me and I am excited about joining the Rockets and I’m looking forward to a great season,” Howard wrote on Twitter on Friday night.
Howard, who had never been fully comfortable with the offense under Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, joins a Rockets team that could become an immediate contender in the NBA Western Conference with him at center.
The Lakers confirmed earlier Friday that Howard would be leaving after one season. Dallas, Golden State and Atlanta were the other suitors interested in Howard.
“Naturally we’re disappointed,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. “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.”
The Rockets had brought Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon with them when they made their pitch to Howard on Monday. And now Howard will follow the likes of Olajuwon and Yao Ming in Houston’s middle.
The deal can’t become official until Wednesday, after next season’s salary cap has been set. The Rockets can give him a four-year deal worth about $88 million, a year less and far below the $118 million the Lakers could have offered.
Also Friday, the Philadelphia 76ers acquired the rights to Rockets forward Royce White, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been officially announced.
White was a first-round pick (16th overall) in the 2012 draft and spent last season on the Rockets’ inactive list as he worked on a deal with the team to balance his anxiety disorder with the demands of the NBA schedule.
The Mavericks and Warriors, meanwhile, made other big moves as soon as it was clear they were out of the running for Howard.
Dallas came to an agreement with Spanish star Jose Calderon on a four-year, $28 million contract, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because free agent contracts can’t be discussed publicly before Wednesday, when they can first be signed.
Calderon’s best season was 2008-09 when he averaged highs of 12.8 points and 8.9 assists. But that was a year after consecutive seasons of first-round playoff exits, when Calderon was primarily a backup.
One person said the Warriors cleared more than $24 million in salary cap space by sending Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and Brandon Rush to the Utah Jazz along with a package of draft picks.
Iguodala averaged 13 points, 5.4 assists and 5.3 rebounds last season for the Denver Nuggets, who lost to the Warriors in the opening round of the NBA playoffs. He spent his first eight years in the NBA with the Philadelphia 76ers and has averaged 15.1 points for his career.
AP Sports Writers Antonio Gonzalez in Oakland, California, and Schuyler Dixon in Dallas contributed to this report.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.