Howard, 30, averaged just 13.7 points and attempted just 8.5 field goals per game in 2015-16, his lowest numbers since his rookie season with Orlando in 2004-05.
Howard had an opportunity to remain with Houston but declined a player option that would have paid him $23.2 million.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey and newly hired coach Mike D’Antoni praised Howard’s efforts and welcomed him back if he was willing to play a different style. That style wouldn’t allow him to become a focal point of the offense, particularly in the post, or in some cases the second option. With D’Antoni in charge, the Rockets will continue their presence as a 3-point-shooting team, use more pick-and-roll plays and have a desire to go younger at center, using Clint Capela, a 22-year old who played in a career-high 77 games last season.
Howard, who didn’t play well in his one season with the Los Angeles Lakers when D’Antoni was the coach, didn’t seem excited to play in that system again.
Health was an issue at the start of last season with Howard as he couldn’t participate in back-to-back games because of a sore back. As the season progressed, Howard played in back-to-back games and didn’t have any limitations, but the Rockets went in a different direction offensively, leaving him seeking more opportunities.
Howard said he spoke with Morey about increasing his involvement in the offense but was told things weren’t changing.
So now Howard is officially gone from the Rockets and is set to start a new journey with his fourth NBA team.
With Howard off the books, the Rockets gain $45 million in cap space.
Information from ESPN.com’s Calvin Watkins was used in this report.