Houston Rockets finally rope in Dwight Howard

Houston, July 14 (IANS) The Houston Rockets have officially signed unrestricted free agent center Dwight Howard with a four-year max deal worth about $88 million, the National Basketball Association (NBA) team announced.

The Rockets's owner Leslie Alexander made the announcement at an introductory press conference held at Toyota Center in downtown Houston to welcome their newest member and seven-time NBA All-Star Howard, who selected the Rockets over the Lakers, Mavericks, Hawks and Warriors, reports Xinhua.

"Dwight is the biggest free agent acquisition in the history of Rockets," said Alexander. "His addition puts us in contention. This is good for the city and especially the fans. Fans are going to have a great time this year. This team will be tremendous fun to watch."

Alexander said the effort to sign Howard was "a team effort, and everybody in the organization helped. Houston is a boom town for a long as anyone can see. It loves newcomers, it welcomes people. He'll be very welcome here."

The three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year made it clear that an NBA championship is his goal for the 2013-14 season and he looked forward to a "fresh start" with the Rockets.

Howard said: "If we dedicate ourselves and sacrifice everything we've got for a championship, at the end of the season we should be holding up a trophy."

On hand to welcome Howard into the fraternity of Rockets big men were Yao Ming and Hakeem Olajuwon. Elvin Hayes, Moses Malone, Ralph Sampson, Clyde Drexler, John Lucas and Rockets Hall of Famer Calvin Murphy also were on hand, as were current Rockets Chandler Parsons, Patrick Beverley and Greg Smith plus head coach Kevin McHale.

Howard owns career averages of 18.3 points, 12.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 697 games (696 starts) with the Orlando Magic and LA Lakers.

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