At long last, the final player in the Dwight Howard saga seems ready to make something happen. After more than seven months of half-hearted efforts and clinging to dreams, the Magic seem ready to make good on their promise to move on from the Dwight Howard saga and trade the superstar center.
Things came to a head this weekend after new general manager Rob Hennigan met with Howard in Southern California, where Howard continues to rehabilitate a back injury that kept him out of the Playoffs last season. There Howard told, and Hennigan confirmed Monday, that he wanted a trade out of Orlando.
Magic CEO Alex Martins said at the end of the season that the franchise would not go through another will-he, won't-he season and the franchise was determined to move on one way or another before the season began. It now appears certain the Magic's future will be without Howard in the mix.
And the Orlando Magic franchise seems to be pretty content with that decision. Just about any feeling of good will Howard had with the organization has been burned through his constant indecision and maneuverings to leave. The reported accusation that the Magic blackmailed him into waiving his opt-out clause might have been the final straw.
At least, that is what controversial Orlando broadcaster Dave Pingalore of ClickOrlando is reporting:
Pingalore has also learned that the Magic are ready to deal Howard sooner than later, and, according to sources, the Magic are "fed up with the antics of Howard."
A person very close to the situation who did not want to be identified said, "This nonsense is a direct result of Howard not listening to his representation." The source added, "If Howard would of stayed the course before the trade deadline and took a trade, good people in the Magic organization would still be employed."
Howard has been a wrecking ball to the franchise and has turned it inside out, upside down and just about any other direction he can. A divorce seems like the only option.
This story would not be complete without one more surprise twist however.
Hennigan said Howard told him he would like a trade specifically to the Nets and it is being widely reported that Brooklyn is the only franchise in which Howard plans on signing long term.
This all occurred Monday before reports began surfacing that Brooklyn would acquire Joe Johnsonfrom Atlanta for Johan Petro, Jordan Farmar, DeShawn Stevenson, Jordan Williams and two future first round picks. This came after the reports this weekend that Brooklyn agreed to a four-year, $40 million deal with Gerald Wallace and came before rumors began surfacing that the Nets were close to signing Deron Williams.
What does all this mean?
It likely means the Nets have bowed out of the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. The Magic and Nets continue to have discussions, but as Chris Sheridan notes, it is still possible for the Nets to acquire Howard. ESPN is reporting the framework of the deal is Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and three future first round picks for Dwight Howard. Several other iterations have the Nets including Gerald Wallace and/or also receiving Hedo Turkoglu.
It does not appear the Magic are going to bite on this structure of a deal. First off, it would require Lopez and Humphries to agree to a sign-and-trade with the Magic and for the Magic to agree to take on those long-term commitments.
This does not seem to be what Rob Hennigan will do. He came into the organization promising to follow a "process" and to make strategic moves. Unless he values Lopez and Humphries a lot more than most around the league do, it does not seem committing long-term to those two -- especially considering the bevy of power forwards the Magic have -- would make much sense.
And so that brings up several other possibilities.
The Hawks appear to be positioning themselves for a run at the hometown hero either through a trade or maybe through free agency. They have the young talent and expiring contracts the Magic would want. The Lakers could be back in it if they are willing to trade Andrew Bynum and stomach the possibility Howard could leave at the end of the year. The Rockets have long been willing to rent Howard for the season and have lots of young players to offer.
And then there is this possibility. The one Magic fans probably fear, but secretly hope for.
With nowhere else to turn, would this story possibly come full circle with Howard opting to stay in Orlando long term?
It seems like Howard has burned his bridges with the organization and they want nothing more but to be rid of him. But if Howard is willing to sign an extension and commit the next five years to the Magic. How do you say no to that? Winning cures all ills.
There is no rumor or report to suggest Howard would do that at this point. Likely it is a pipe dream as the two sides are completely disillusioned with each other. But stranger things have happened with Howard and the Magic during this never-ending saga.
One thing is for sure, it is coming to a merciful end.
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