Dwight Howard’s move from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Rockets was not officially rubber-stamped by Houston on Wednesday, though a flood of completed deals were confirmed with the NBA lifting its moratorium on new business.
On what is generally known as “signing day” some of the league’s biggest names changed uniforms as the league set its salary cap for the coming season at US$58.67 million.
The occasion, however, was anti-climatic, with most of the deals completed days earlier and only the formality of signing on the dotted line remaining.
Andrea Bargnani, Andre Iguodala and Josh Smith were among the high-profile names finding new homes while All-Star point guard Chris Paul re-signed with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Paul officially inked a new five-year, US$107 million contract one minute after the moratorium was lifted at midnight.
Center Andrew Bynum agreed to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers for a two-year, US$24 million deal, it was reported by the NBA on Wednesday.
Bynum had been traded from the Lakers to Philadelphia last season, but failed to play a single game for the 76ers because of knee issues.
Howard, a seven-time All-Star center, was the prize free agent on the market and attracted the attention of several suitors.
Even though the Rockets remained quiet on Wednesday, Howard’s signing was all but confirmed a day earlier when the league fined Houston US$150,000 for prematurely commenting about their new acquisition.
The Lakers also confirmed they had lost the battle to retain the 27-year-old.
Howard, who had also been courted by the Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors, favored the move to Houston despite the prospect of a substantial paycut.
Howard would have been eligible to sign for five years and US$118 million with Los Angeles or four years and US$88 million with any other team.
The prospect of being the kingpin on an ambitious Rockets team which will also include James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin and promising center Omer Asik was always likely to be an alluring one for Howard.
The Lakers moved quickly to fill the void left by Howard, reaching an agreement with free agent Chris Kaman on a one-year deal worth approximately US$3.2 million.
Houston was also believed to be Smith’s destination, but instead the Atlanta Hawks free agent forward opted for a four-year, US$54 million deal with the Detroit Pistons.
The Golden State Warriors were also in the hunt for Howard, but after that failed to secure him, they turned their attention to Iguodala, acquiring the guard/forward from the Denver Nuggets in a three-team trade on a four-year, US$48 million deal.
Iguodala spent eight seasons with the 76ers before being traded to the Nuggets last year.
The Toronto Raptors confirmed a swap with the New York Knicks by shipping Bargnani to Broadway for a package of players and draft picks.
The Raptors received center Marcus Camby, forwards Steve Novak and Quentin Richardson, a 2016 first-round draft pick and two second-round draft picks (next year and 2017).