"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 late Friday night.
He leaves behind an extra $30 million and an offense under Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni that he was never fully comfortable with, joining a Rockets team that could become an immediate contender in the Western Conference with the All-Star center in the middle.
"Years of work by Dwight & Rockets went into this. This team is going to be special," general manager Daryl Morey tweeted.
USA Today first reported earlier Friday that Howard would join the Rockets, where he will team with All-Star James Harden to give the Rockets a potentially potent inside-outside combination.
That didn't quite end the Howard saga, which has dragged on a couple of years. He spoke again with the Lakers amid reports he was changing his mind.
Turns out, he was just saying goodbye.
"We have been informed of Dwight's decision to not return to the Lakers," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. "Naturally we're disappointed. 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, one our great Lakers fans will be proud to support.
"To Dwight, we thank him for his time and consideration, and for his efforts with us last season. We wish him the best of luck on the remainder of his NBA career."
Dallas, Golden State and Atlanta were the other suitors interested in Howard.
CELTICS: Brad Stevens says he had no desire to leave Butler – until the Celtics called.
Seventeen championships. Bill Russell. Red Auerbach. It was all too much for the 36-year-old Stevens to resist.
Boston introduced its 17th coach at a news conference on Friday at the team’s practice facility, and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Stevens was his first choice to replace Doc Rivers. Boston received a first-round draft pick from the Los Angeles Clippers for the rights to Rivers last week, and then Ainge called Stevens.
“First of all, the Boston Celtics, like, wow – that is an incredible feeling,” Stevens said about last week’s phone call from Ainge. “It’s an incredible honor and it’s certainly flattering.”
Stevens received a six-year deal worth a reported $22 million and became the youngest head coach in the NBA.
“My first phone call was to Brad Stevens. Brad was my first choice,” Ainge said.
WARRIORS: Golden State has agreed to terms with one coveted free agent.
The Warriors reached an agreement with swingman Andre Iguodala on a $48 million, four-year deal Friday, two people with knowledge of the situation said.
One source 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 unspecified draft picks.
76ERS: Philadelphia has acquired Royce White and the rights to Furkan Aldemir for future draft considerations in a trade with the Houston Rockets, according to an NBA source.
The trade was first reported by Yahoo Sports.