Lakers’ Mitch Kupchak confirms Dwight Howard won’t return

The Dwightmare is finally over.

The Lakers confirmed that Dwight Howard won’t return, and instead, sign with the Houston Rockets.

“We have been informed of Dwight’s decision to not return to the Lakers,” Kupchak said in a statement. “Naturally we’re disappointed. However, we will now move forward in a different direction with the future of the franchise and, as always, will do our best to build the best team possible, one our great lakers fans will be proud to support. To Dwight, we thank him for his time and consideration, and for his efforts with us last season. We wish him the best of luck on the remainder of his NBA career.”

Even on the day where Howard appeared to make up his mind, he went through some last-minute second thoughts. After multiple media reports indicated Howard planned to sign with Houston to a four-year, $88 million deal, his agent publicly denied a deal was done. Howard apparently planned to fly from Aspen, Colo. to Los Angeles to have a meeting with Kupchak, but the Lakers sounded surprised about that arrangement.

“That’s news to Mitch,” said a Lakers source. “He hasn’t shared any of these plans.”

Shortly after, Howard did. After one season that featured a first-round exit, plenty of scrutiny and struggles playing through back and shoulder injuries, Howard will no longer wear the purple and gold uniform.

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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