NBA free agency: 30 greatest free agent signings in NBA history

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NBA Free Agency
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Greatest free agency signings in NBA history: 25. Dwight Howard- Houston Rockets, 2013

Following his disappointing stint with the Lakers, which included clashes with Kobe Bryant and head coach Mike D’Antoni, All-Star center Dwight Howard decided to take his services to Houston with a four-year, $88 million deal. The results were, uh, let’s say mixed.

While Howard wasn’t quite the dominant two-way force he was in Orlando — a lot of that had to do with his declining athleticism due to his back injuries — he still put up All-Star level numbers playing alongside emerging superstar James Harden.

In three seasons with the Rockets, Howard averaged 16.0 points, 11.7 boards, and 1.6 blocks on 60.1 percent “shooting” (most of his attempts were inside of three feet). The analytics also shined a reasonably favorable light on his game, as his 20.0 PER and .148 WS/48 framed him as a fringe All-Star.

However, there were some underlying issues that the numbers obstructed, namely as it pertained to Howard wanting touches in the post as if he were Hakeem Olajuwon in his prime. Leaving aside the fact that the league was moving away from the molasses-paced offenses that dominated the 90s and the 00s, Howard wasn’t even that good at it.

Even in Howard’s prime, he was more Dikembe Mutombo than Olajuwon or David Robinson — a defensive star with a restricted offensive game. But this didn’t keep Howard from begging for a number of touches that were reflective of his star power.

Eventually, this torpedoed the Rockets’ team chemistry; in Howard’s final season with the team, the Rockets went from darkhorse title contender to a 41-41 mess that the Warriors mercifully put out to pasture in the first round.