Howard joins a team starring James Harden that reached the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and battled back from a 3-0 deficit before being eliminated by the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6.
General manager Daryl Morey, who led the effort to land Howard, is excited about upgrading his team and knows this puts the Rockets among the preseason favorites to contend for a championship.
“I think it absolutely gives us a chance,” he said. “What you do this job for is to have a chance. The reality is five to seven teams have a chance any given year. The way it is in this league, you’ve got to have multiple All-Stars, you generally have to have dominant top players and we have two guys that we think are in the top 10 in the league in James and Dwight.”
Howard was traded from Orlando to the Lakers in a four-team trade that also included Philadelphia and Denver last year. He recovered from back surgery last season and averaged 17.1 points and 12.4 rebounds
His one season in Los Angeles was filled with unrest, including an admission that there were times that he wasn’t having fun and what many believed to be a less than positive relationship with Kobe Bryant
The Rockets believe that will change in Houston.
“If you can be a great player and can’t be happy, what difference does it make? He’ll be very happy here,” Alexander said. “Dwight recognizes that his boyhood dreams will come true as a Rocket.”
Yao made a call to Howard to help recruit the 27-year-old player to Houston. As the most recent star center to play for the Rockets, Yao is eager to see Howard take the team to “the next level.”
“I feel so happy that he chose the Rockets and I feel the Rockets will be the best fitting team for him because we have such a great, rich history of big men,” Yao said.