Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard has agreed to terms with the Houston Rockets, joining an up-and-coming team with one of the NBA’s most dynamic young players while becoming the biggest free-agent name to ever turn his back on the Lakers.

He ditched the Lakers despite their very public campaign to retain him, including numerous billboards around Los Angeles with his image and the simple slogan “STAY.”

But Howard left, eschewing pitches from Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and a team of Lakers executives in a lengthy meeting Tuesday in Beverly Hills…

Howard declined a five-year, $118-million contract offer from the Lakers to accept a four-year, $88-million deal with the Rockets, his third team in an 11-month period.

“Walt Disney said, ‘Big risks, big rewards,’” Howard said. “He put everything he had into ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,’ and the sky was the limit. Now there’s Disneyland and Disney World.

“It’s a big sacrifice leaving $30 million. Really, really a big sacrifice. But I want to win a championship and I want to get back to being the person who I am and have some fun and enjoy playing basketball. And I think that’s what I’ll find in Houston.”

Reported by Mike Bresnahan and T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times