I think it's wrong to call the acquisition of D12 one of the biggest signings in Lakers history, but obviously there was plenty of excitement in Lakers Nation after LA picked him during the same offseason that they acquired Steve Nash. I was just a excited as anyone and of course I pegged the Lakers as a team with a fantastic chance to win the NBA title; I certainly saw them making it to the finals. I did not, however, foresee all the problems that would arise, and a season later - after learning much more about basketball in my first true season as a hardcore Lakers fan - I see that LA was not the right place for Dwight.
I remember that after I found out the Lakers had signed Howard, I talked to one of my friends (a Bulls fan) about it, and one of things he mentioned was that Howard had lots of problems in Orlando, attitude-wise. Those same problems, he said, could arise in LA especially when the games start and Howard realizes that the Lakers are Kobe's team, not his. I was more confident that Howard would be able to adjust and of course he was an excellent replacement for Bynum; you can't say that Howard isn't a very good player, one of the premier centers in the NBA (if not the best center).
The problem with Howard is that he is not the kind of guy who wants to play second fiddle to any other player, and he certainly doesn't want to hang around a team that's not winning. He is franchise player, but he's not the guy you want to build a franchise around because he'll just end up leaving when he doesn't get rings instantly. On the Lakers, there was no doubt that Kobe would remain the main guy on the squad and rightfully so: he has won multiple championships, is a sure-shot Hall of Famer and is one of the greatest Lakers and players of all time. Howard has no rings and is not even close to Kobe in the great scheme of all-time greats.
I knew that D12 wouldn't return to LA after the disappointing season finished, and I figured that he would end up in Houston because it was an attractive proposition. The Rockets already have a good young team led by Harden, and Daryl Morey continues to try to land Josh Smith in a trade with Atlanta which would make the Rockets an even better team. A year ago, Howard said that he had no interest in joining the rebuilding Rockets; now, he's heading there because he sniffs rings and he feels that Houston is a team where he can be the superstar as well win a title. I'm not surprised by his decision and it totally makes sense for him. I have nothing against him for it, but I won't be missing him next season.
To be honest, I don't think that Howard will win a ring with the Rockets and he'll be on the move again soon because he's not going to stay with any franchise for a prolonged amount of time if he's not getting instant gratification and this one of the many reasons why Dwight has no place in LA where he will not be the superstar. All stats and history aside, Kobe is a player who will stay with his one team and give all he has. He's also the kind of guy who will put as much weight on his back as humanely possible, whereas Howard will not. He's not going to risk himself to give everything and take one for the team and he's not going to stay anywhere or develop a lasting bond to one team. He demands very specific circumstances for his services: he wants to go to a team with a good chance of winning it all that has a group of strong players to play with, but he does not want any of those guys to be better than him; he wants to be the star.
Another, more technical reason for why Howard just doesn't belong in LA is Mike D'Antoni. D'Antoni is not the coach for Howard, and they didn't vibe. Not only is Kobe the go-to guy on the team but D'Antoni play style relies more on Nash than it does on Howard, meaning that at times Dwight is demoted to third place in rank of importance during games.
Am I going to miss Howard? Not really. Yes he's a good player but he causes plenty of other problems. I would rather not have the star player who's a pain in the ass to please and who doesn't want to be around, even if he is a star. Besides, his blocks are dunks were enjoyable but (among other things) he can't shoot free throws and this hurt LA at times late in games. His stupid technical fouls were another problem, and his getting kicked out in game four against San Antonio just capped the whole thing off.
A lot of sportswriters are saying that this is next chapter in the Howard saga; there was no saga chapter with the Lakers, just a disappointing season that people will have forgotten about soon enough, especially when LA wins their next title.