Dwight Howard appears to be heading to the Houston Rockets based on the process of elimination.
Howard has told four of the five teams he was considering that they were no longer in the running and he would not be signing with them, according to ESPN.com. That left Houston as the winner of the Howard free-agent sweepstakes.
The highly coveted center told the Los Angeles Lakers that he would not be returning after just one season with the team, though the Lakers would not confirm they were out, ESPN reported.
After wrapping up meetings with all of the contenders on Tuesday, Howard indicated that a decision would be made by Friday on his destination next season: the Rockets, Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks. Howard reportedly was in Aspen, Colo., the past few days with his advisers discussing his options.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban confirmed Friday that his team did not land Howard.
A source told ESPN that the Lakers may have dropped to as low as fourth on Howard's final list.
The Lakers felt good about their chances of keeping Howard after their recruiting pitch to him on Tuesday. That included stars Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash trying to convince Howard that his best chances of winning championships were in Los Angeles.
However, the team by Thursday felt less optimistic because of questions regarding Howard's ability and willingness to co-exist with Bryant and play for coach Mike D'Antoni.
The Lakers can offer up to one year and $30 million more than any other team to re-sign Howard. They have reportedly indicated that they do want to take on long-term contracts in a sign-and-trade deal involving Howard.