Surprise, surprise. Dwight Howard has not backed off his trade demand and told new Magic general manager Rob Hennigan he wants to be traded in a face-to-face meeting in Southern California on Friday, preferrably to the Brooklyn Nets. The Magic appear finally to be ready to trade Howard and end this crazy saga.
Of course, it will not be without its final twist and turn.
Chris Broussard of ESPN.com reports Howard has approached the NBA Players Union about filing possible legal claims against the Magic for blackmailing Howard into waiving his early termination option. Broussard reports Howard is hoping to eliminate his opt-in clause and become a free agent THIS SUMMER.
That would be something and might maintain Howard's alleged dream of joining forces with Deron Williams in Brooklyn.
The problem for Howard is that the Magic still hold the strings in this matter. Howard opted in to the final year of his contract and is obligated to play out the final year of his deal. He does not have a no-trade clause and Orlando can send him wherever the team wants.
This is a pure power play from Howard as he hopes to get what he wants -- a trade to Brooklyn. The basis for his decision to opt in was reportedly the Magic told him they were going to trade him to Houston or Los Angeles (Lakers) -- two locations Howard was not willing to sign long term. His fear of potentially losing out on the maximum contract he can receive from a place he wants to play and his general indecision about leaving Orlando and being perceived as "the bad guy." Of course, the Magic had Howard sleep on his decision to opt in before he signed the papers on that fateful March day.
A lot is at play here.
Ultimately though, Howard is stuck. He wants to play for Brooklyn or in a big market where he can be the marketing star he envisions himself as. Orlando holds the cards to decide where Howard will play this season before he enters free agency.
It does not seem that Howard's claim with the Players Association will gain any water. Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld reported the Players Association told Howard he had no grounds for his complaint and his only option was to request a trade or play out the remaining year in his contract.
This saga of power struggles that has occurred in Orlando is nearing its end one way or another.
Magic CEO Alex Martins said Orlando will not go through the never-ending saga it went through this past season. If Howard will not sign an extension with the Magic this summer, the franchise is determined to get some value for him rather than let him walk in free agency like Shaquille O'Neal did 16 years ago. This is a franchise trying to learn from its mistakes and determined not to repeat them.
Howard wants out, that is much clear. The Magic are finally ready to oblige him.
Howard, by opting into the final year of his contract, lost the ability to dictate where he will go. Now he is fighting for that power back. Of course, he gave up that power in opting in. After all, then-general manager Otis Smith told Howard to sleep on his decision to opt in after the team returned from a road trip to San Antonio the night before the trade deadline. Howard came out the following afternoon and proclaimed loyalty in opting into the final year of his contract.
Orlando is not looking to accomodate Howard anymore. The team will make a deal that will benefit it and not serve Howard. No matter how much Howard complains, his decision is made. He wants out of Orlando. That much appears clear from his face-to-face meeting with Hennigan.
Who knows where this drama will go next. But it is nearing its end, likely before the beginning of the 2013 season.
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