The All-Star center told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith on Friday night that he will sign a free-agent contract with the Rockets after the league lifts its annual moratorium on player business Wednesday.
Howard confirmed his decision on Twitter.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said Howard informed the organization that he would not return to Los Angeles.
"We have been informed of Dwight's decision to not return to the Lakers," Kupchak said in a statement on the team's website. "Naturally we're disappointed. However, we will now move forward in a different direction with the future of the franchise and, as always, will do our best to build the best team possible, one our great Lakers fans will be proud to support. To Dwight, we thank him for his time and consideration, and for his efforts with us last season. We wish him the best of luck on the remainder of his NBA career."