Dwight Howard finally gets his choice as the NBA waits on his answer

In the hours after Dwight Howard listened to the final pledges and pitches out of Kobe Bryant and Mitch Kupchak, Dirk Nowitzki and Mark Cuban, the most recruited basketball star on the planet promises to be 30,000 feet in the air, flying to a retreat outside California to consider the possibilities of his free-agent decision.

Soon, Howard will make a choice on where he'll sign his free-agent contract, and three years of stops and starts, indecision and insecurities, will finally leave him with his own choice, his own consequences on his career.

The Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks were the final two teams to make presentations to Howard and his representatives on Tuesday, five teams marching into a room and selling visions to the franchise center. Golden State, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Los Angeles were invited to make bids for Howard.

The Rockets remain frontrunners for Howard, but Howard is still giving consideration to remaining with the Los Angeles Lakers, sources said.

"The Rockets have put themselves in position to pull this off," one source with knowledge of Howard's decision-making process said. "If he wants to win right now – and be set up to keep winning – it's hard to make a case for anyone but Houston."

Howard planned to climb aboard a private plane with his representatives in the Relativity Sports Group – Dan Fegan and Happy Walters – and leave Los Angeles for the solitude of the outdoors these next few days, sources told Y! Sports.

There could be a decision by Friday, or perhaps Howard could let it bleed into the weekend. Whatever he chooses promises to have an immense impact on the NBA – from the glorious Lakers franchise, to the final years of Kobe Bryant's career, to the transformation of the Rockets into an NBA power again.

For now, Howard will leave the frenzy of Los Angeles and disappear into the quiet several states away. When he returns back to his mansion in the hills, he'll be considered a conquering hero or something far, far less in Southern California. This is the moment that Howard's been pursuing for several years, back to his Orlando Magic days, and it's finally here: sweet freedom and choice. Only everything hangs upon it in this NBA.

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