Dwight Howard has dismissed rumours that he is looking to leave the Houston Rockets and made it clear that he is committed to the franchise.
The Rockets have struggled this season, winning just 12 of the 26 games they have played thus far, and while Howard has expressed his frustrations at his team’s poor record, he reiterated that he has no plans to move to another team.
“I chose to go to Houston (via free agency in the summer of 2013), so why would I just say, 'I'm not happy' and leave,” Howard told USA Today Sports. “I chose this place, you know what I'm saying? And I want to make this thing work here. Obviously we haven't been playing great basketball, and personally for myself my numbers don't seem like I've been playing great, but the only thing on my mind is trying to grow as a man and grow as a teammate and a leader. All the BS that's around, sometimes it is frustrating to hear it, because I know who I am as a man and I know what I'm trying to do for this city.”
Howard also believes that it is only a matter of time before the Rockets win their first NBA title since 1995. Howard joined the Rockets in July 2013 and in the 2013/14 NBA season, the team lost to the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the playoffs. However, they enjoyed a lot more success last season as they reached the Western Conference Finals, where they were beaten by eventual champions, the Golden State Warriors.
“I came here, and it's a mission to make this team a championship team,” Howard said. “There's always going to be rumors (and) I don't know what's going to happen at the end of the summer, but right now and since I've been here, the only mission is to help this team win a championship.
“The first year (in Houston), we made it to the playoffs, went out in the first round, and the second year of us being together – me and James – we went to the Western Conference Finals. That's big. We may have not won the championship, but after two years of being together and going through all the things that we went through as players, we were still able to make it to the Western Conference Finals together. You know, the sky is the limit for us. We've got to put aside anything – all the noise – and just focus on winning.”
There have also been rumours of a rift forming between Howard and guard James Harden, but the 30-year-old center rubbished these reports and instead chose to lavish praise on Harden as he is averaging 29.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 1.9 steals per game this season.
“People can say what they want about me and James and that whole situation, but I came here and the biggest reason was because of him, because I want both of us to grow and be great basketball players and be great teammates together,” Howard said. “It's on us to do it. We are the ones who are held accountable for the good things and the bad things that happen to this team, and I came here with that mission, so that both of us can grow.
“He's rising as a star, and I've seen all the things that he's done and I've been through almost all of the things that he's done as a basketball player. And I want to help him grow and reach even higher heights. All the other stuff is just noise. I just hate hearing it.”