As the 2020-2021 NBA season was beginning to wind down, Philadelphia 76ers veteran center Dwight Howard started fielding questions about his future. Being that he was only on a one-year deal with the Sixers, Howard was free to hit the free agency market once again on Monday.

A couple of months back, Howard told a Sixers fan that "it would be a dream come true" to return to the Sixers. At this point, that dream won't be a reality. In the days leading up to the start of free agency, Howard was heavily linked to his former team, the Los Angeles Lakers.

Hours before the market floodgates opened, it was reported that Howard's return to Los Angeles was "inevitable." Not even two hours into the start of free agency, it was official. Dwight Howard returned to the Los Angeles Lakers on a one-year deal after spending the season in Philadelphia.

Howard leaves Philly on a high note, though. While he's acquired his fair share of haters among many NBA fan bases, Howard built a special bond with Sixers fans during his lone season in the City of Brotherly Love.

As he makes the transition back out West, the veteran center took to Instagram this week to bid his farewell to Sixers fans.

"I’m sad our time together was short," Howard wrote. "But I must say I enjoyed every single moment. I am gonna definitely miss Philly and the city and all the fans. Y’all showed me so much love. And it did not go unnoticed. I love you. Thank you to the city of BROTHERLY LOVE. PHILADELPHIA."

Although Howard was limited during the second round of the Sixers' playoff run, the veteran center had a solid season behind Joel Embiid last year. While he won't get to parade down Broad Street as he hoped, Howard leaves the Sixers on a high note as he returns to the Lakers for a third stint.

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.