Numerous teams were chasing the big man, but the three big contenders were the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, and Dallas Mavericks. The Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks were also involved in discussions.
What are the implications of Howard's decision to move to Houston?
Obviously this is a big snag for the Rockets organization. They get a legit big man to pair with James Harden and the always improving Chandler Parsons.
What happens with Omer Asik remains to be seen. Asik wants out, but apparently Houston has been reluctant to accept any offers for the center.
When it comes the 2013-14 NBA Future odds, Howard's move to the Rockets has boosted their futures value tremendously. They can now be backed at a price at +700 at 5Dimes to win the title next season, putting them behind only the Miami Heat (+200) and Oklahoma City Thunder (+550).
Yes, that means Houston is now ahead of the likes of San Antonio, Chicago, and the L.A. Clippers on the futures list.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers gave it their best shot to keep Howard in town, but it never seemed all that likely he would stay. You could tell he wasn't happy in Los Angeles and his chemistry with his teammates, especially with Kobe Bryant, was never there.
Without Howard, Kobe and Pau Gasol will take the reigns of the team and become even bigger leaders on the court and off. Bryant is recovering from an Achillies' injury, but is expected to be ready for the start of the season, while it's already been decided that Gasol will feature in the post.
Of course, it'll help if Steve Nash stays healthy and comes even remotely close to his old level of play.
At the sportsbooks, the Lakers can be found all the way down at +3000 to win the title, putting them behind times like Brooklyn, Indiana, Memphis, and New York.
A lot of effort was put in to bring Howard to Dallas to pair with Dirk Nowitzki, but in the end Mark Cuban and the Mavericks fell short, just like they did with Deron Williams in last year's offseason.
Despite failing to get the big man, the Mavericks have still been very busy in this year's free agency race. Darren Collison has moved on to the Clippers, with Dallas bringing in Jose Calderon to take over the point guard duties.
Devin Harris has also reached an agreement to come back to Dallas from Atlanta, though there's a good chance we'll see both Elton Brand and Brandan Wright sign on with other teams by the time free agency comes to a close.
Most importantly though, the Mavericks are apparently in pursuit of Andrew Bynum, which would clearly fill a void inside, that is if Bynum is even able to get on the court and play. What are the Mavericks' chances looking like? Oddsmakers will allow you to add them to your NBA picks at the price of +4500 to win the 2014 championship.
Golden State Warriors & Atlanta Hawks
The Warriors weren't able to land Howard, but they were able to snag Andre Iguodala from the Nuggets. Jarrett Jack, meanwhile, has moved to Cleveland. Golden State can be backed at NBA odds of +3000.
As for the Hawks (+5500), they were going all in for Howard, who has ties with the Atlanta area. The Hawks have already lost Josh Smith to Detroit, Devin Harris to Dallas, and Zaza Pachulia to Milwaukee, but they did secure deals for Paul Millsap and DeMarre Caroll. Will they be making any more additions before free agency ends?