Dwight Howard leaving the Rockets was best for both sides

Dwight Howard will make his first appearance at the Toyota Center Thursday night since leaving the Houston Rockets for his hometown Atlanta Hawks in free agency.

Howard opted out of the final year of his contract, worth $23.2 million, despite Houston’s efforts to retain him, though their hiring of Mike D’Antoni was against that rhetoric.

The 6’11 big man later agreed to a three-year deal worth $70.5 million to return home and play for the Hawks.

In an interview with ESPN’s Mike & Mike over the summer, he detailed the relationship, or lack thereof, with Houston’s franchise pillar, James Harden.

“It wasn’t as good as it needed to be for us to succeed. But, you know, looking back on it, there’s really nothing that we can do about it now,” Howard said. “Talking about it amongst ourselves is great, but for myself, and I think for the Rockets, we all have to move on and let that chapter of all of our lives pass. I wish the relationship would have been a lot better, but throughout all the things that happened the last couple of years, I think it’s shaped and molded me into the player — the person — that I am today. It made me stronger.”

In the end, though, this divorce was best for both sides.

The Rockets have launched since Howard’s departure

Harden is the runaway candidate for the league’s Most Valuable Player award, words that weren’t a thought while Howard was in town. Harden handily leads the league with 11.5 assists per game and his…