Dwight Howard timeline: From the No. 1 draft pick to the Rockets

Ronald Martinez

From becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2004 Draft to signing with the Rockets on Friday, this is a run through Howard's time in the NBA.

June 24, 2004 - Howard was drafted with the top overall pick by the Orlando Magic, ahead of Emeka Okafor -- though ESPN's draft profile noted that Okafor was the favorite for the top pick because Howard was "too nice."

August 2004 - Dwight Howard made his first waves as a part of a Slam Magazine cover that also featured Josh Smith, Al Jefferson, Shaun Livingston, Marvin Williams and Sebastian Telfair. Please note that every player wore their high school team's jersey, but Howard instead insisted on wearing his more prestigious McDonald's All-American jersey for the shoot.

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(via www.slamonline.com)

July 12, 2007 - Dwight Howard signed his first contract extension with the Orlando Magic. It was a five-year deal worth the maximum $83,235,900 and one that Howard said would keep him in Orlando for the rest of his career.

"I always said I wanted to be here until I retire myself. Me and Mickey Mouse will be here forever. I am very excited about re-signing with the Magic and I want to be here until I retire. There is no other place that I want to be besides in Orlando."

Whoops.

April 20, 2009 - Sports Illustrated put Howard on its cover, but wondered if he could get serious for a second -- a sign of things to come.

0420_large_medium

May 31, 2011 - Howard still says he wants to be with the Magic until he retires and, in the process of committing to the Magic, he started a mini-feud with Shaquille O'Neal.

"I'm not trying to run behind nobody like Shaq or be behind somebody else," Howard said, referencing Shaquille O'Neal's decision to leave the Magic following the 1995-96 season and sign with the Los Angeles Lakers. "I want to start my own path and I want people to follow my path and not just follow somebody else's path. I want to have my own path, and I want to start that here in Orlando."

June 13, 2011 - Two weeks after those comments, Howard changed his tune. Drastically.

After previously saying he wanted to bring players to Orlando to complement him and help him build a winning tradition with the Magic, Howard decided he was going to become a free agent if the Magic didn't win a championship the following season (instead of signing a two-year extension).

October 18, 2011 -The NBA lockout was nearing its fourth month and our own Tom Ziller tied its underpinnings to the Dwight Howard situation. Howard was going against exactly what most NBA owners wanted as his intent was leaving a small-market team for a bigger market ... just like LeBron James and Chris Bosh did the summer before him.

November 30, 2011 - The Dwightmare was still happening at this point. It wasn't getting any prettier, though, as then-Magic general manager Otis Smith made the first comments regarding a potential trade for Howard. He didn't seem completely open to the deal, but that was the first time that it sounded like the Magic saw the writing on the wall and were interesting in getting something instead of nothing in return for Howard.

Later that day, the Nets would be involved in the first big trade rumor involving Howard (leading to a report that Howard asked for a trade to Brooklyn).

December 10, 2011 - Howard received permission to seek a trade to the Lakers, Mavericks and Nets.

December 14, 2011 - Orlando decided to take Howard off of the trade market just a few days after saying he could pursue trades with other teams. It was a weird time in the NBA, folks, and Tom Ziller was confused as to what the end-plan was for Orlando.

December 20, 2011 - Ziller did his annual top free agents column and, surprise surprise, he seemed to hit the nail on the head regarding Howard's free agent future when it came to how he wanted to be pursued.

Should he reach free agency. he'll probably hold court at Hogwarts at Universal Studios in Orlando, inviting Mikhail Prokhorov, Jim Buss, Jerry Reinsdorf and Rich DeVos to sell him signing with their franchises. And I expect Howard to turn it into a giant joke, plank on Professor McGonagall and decide to move to Jupiter.

March 16, 2012 - Howard signed a waiver that kept him in his contract for the final season of the deal instead of using the early termination option that was written into the original extension.

April 4, 2012 - The NBA trade deadline came and went without Howard being traded and it seemed as though the Magic might be able to re-sign Howard. That is if his head coach, Stan Van Gundy, was fired following the season. Howard denied it, more reports ensued and eventually Smith told the world that Van Gundy was going to remain head coach of the Magic.

April 5, 2012 - The most awkward interview ever happened. It was awkward.

April 20, 2012 - Howard's agent announced that Howard would miss the remainder of the season with a bad back, effectively ending his Orlando career.

May 22, 2012 - Van Gundy was eventually fired. Howard decided he didn't want to play for Orlando anyway. There's not a lot to really add to that.

June 20, 2012 - The Magic hired Rob Hennigan away from the Oklahoma City Thunder. His first job was to trade Howard.

July 25, 2012 - Howard met with Hennigan, but his trade demands remained.

July 28, 2012 - Jacque Vaughn was named the head coach of the Orlando Magic. That didn't appear to change Howard's opinions of Orlando one way or the other.

August 9, 2012 - The Magic moved close to the four-team deal that would eventually set the parameters of the Lakers trade. Howard said he wouldn't sign an extension, however, even if he was sent to Los Angeles.

August 10, 2012 - The four-team deal happened, ending the long national Dwightmare. It was reported that the Magic's side of the deal wasn't decided on by Henningan, however.

October 29, 2012 - Sports Illustrated used Howard for their NBA preview, accompanied by fellow new addition Steve Nash in a feature titled "Now This Is Going To Be Fun."

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It turned out not to be that fun.

October 30, 2012 - Dwight debuts with the Lakers and records a double-double, scoring 19 points and bringing down 10 rebounds. The Lakers lose, but there's no cause for concern in L.A. This loss was the first of many for the Lake Show as the team stumbles badly out of the gate.

January 1, 2013 - Reports begin to leak out that Howard and Kobe Bryant nearly came to blows following a tough loss against the 76ers. Bryant laughed it off with the media the following day and tweeted this infamous picture out.

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January 23, 2013 - The bickering continues. The Los Angeles Times reports Howard and his Lakers teammates got after each other a bit in a team meeting, leading to trade speculation.

February 6, 2013 - Kobe starts publicly criticizing Howard for not being able to play through pain. He says the team doesn't have time for Howard's shoulder to heal, and that he needs to play with a sense of urgency and not care what others say about him. Meanwhile, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak tells Howard he won't trade him before the trade deadline.

February 8, 2013 - As Howard continues to play in pain, his production declines rapidly. The notoriously thin-skinned center pleads for the Lakers to start "supporting him."

February 21, 2013 - The trade deadline passes and Howard is still a Laker.

April 12, 2013 - Kobe Bryant tears his Achilles tendon. He is done for the season.

April 28, 2013 - The Lakers get swept by the Spurs in the quarterfinals. A disappointing, frustrating season comes to a merciful end.

July 1, 2013 - Howard meets with the Rockets first as free agency officially begins. The Rockets are one of five teams (Hawks, Lakers, Mavericks and Warriors) who will get to meet with him face-to-face.

July 3, 2013 - Howard and his advisers retreat to Aspen to make a decision.

July 5, 2013 - Howard picks the Rockets. As speculation ran wild across the league, it was finally reported that Dwight had decided to take his talents to Houston instead of L.A., the final two teams in the running.

Just as everything had calmed down, Chris Broussard reported on SportsCenter that Howard was having second thoughts on his decision and was 50-50 on leaving the Lakers.

This proved to not be true about 30 minutes later. Howard tweeted that he was heading to Houston and Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak released an official statement saying the team had moved on. On July 10, it will be a done deal once pen is put to paper.

Closure.

More from SB Nation:

Dwight Howard chooses Rockets | Is Josh Smith next?

Roth: Why Dwight Howard annoys everyone

J.R. Smith returns to NY | The Knicks are reunited!

The NBA's top 90 free agents | All NBA free agency news

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