Dwight Howard has declined the $23+ million player option on his Rockets contract for the 2016-17 season, paving the way to become a free agent on July 1, according to Yahoo! Sports.
The news is good for the Rockets, who are counting on having millions in cap room this summer to pursue free agents and are not expected to make a huge offer to Howard. Howard notifying the team early was a little bit of a surprise given that he had until the end of the month to decline the option.
The Rockets also hired Mike D’Antoni in the offseason, a coach that Howard struggled with in Los Angeles. From everything I’ve been told, the Rockets would like to have Howard back, but not at the salary he is expected to pursue (and I’m told it would be a good-sized gap), which makes it a good bet that this is the first step to the end of his Houston Rockets career.