NBA AM: Can Magic Persuade Howard to Stay?
Trade rumors have been swirling for weeks, but Dwight Howard is still a member of the Orlando Magic. The Magic continue to negotiate with the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets, but a deal doesn’t appear to be close, according to sources close to the situation. Magic general manager Rob Hennigan isn’t in any rush to trade Howard and Orlando isn’t impressed with the offers that they’ve received in recent weeks. They’re not ready to trade away the top center in the league for pennies on the dollar.
“People forget that he’s Dwight Howard,” said one source in Orlando. “We’re talking about one of the best players in the league. We’re not just going to give him away.”
In fact, Orlando may not trade Howard at all.
For months, it has been assumed that Howard has played his last game as a member of the Magic, but that may not be the case.
In recent days, the Magic have shifted their attention away from the ongoing trade talks and focused on persuading Howard to remain in Orlando. Hennigan and his staff will travel to Los Angeles later this week to meet face-to-face with Howard and deliver a presentation designed to persuade Howard to return to the Magic. Hennigan is determined to fix the strained relationship between the player and the organization, and he’s hopeful that Howard will resume his career in Orlando.
Hennigan asked Howard to drop his trade demand during a phone conversation two weeks ago, but the six-time All-Star reiterated his desire to be traded. Now, however, Howard has agreed to meet with the Magic and sources within the organization are optimistic that they can change his stance with this pitch.
It’s no secret that Howard has wanted to join the Brooklyn Nets for quite some time. Now, with the Nets out of the picture for at least six months, the Magic are hoping that Howard is open to a return rather than settling on another destination like Los Angeles, which Howard seemed hesitant to commit to until recently. Howard doesn’t have many options, which is one reason Orlando is hopeful he’ll be willing to return.
Over the next several days, the Magic are expected to hire a head coach and whoever they hire will likely be in attendance when Hennigan and his staff meet with Howard in Los Angeles. Jacque Vaughn is the frontrunner, but Michael Curry and Lindsey Hunter are also finalists for the job.
The soap opera in Orlando continues and the ending may be extremely anticlimactic if the two sides can work out their differences. While a lot has transpired in recent months, the Magic are hopeful that they can bring Howard back and put this drama behind them.
The Remaining Free Agents: Free agency has been underway for over three weeks and many of the big-name players have already signed. Stars such as Deron Williams, Steve Nash and Roy Hibbert made decisions very early in the process, which opened the floodgates for others to ink new deals. However, there are plenty of notable players that are still available. Now, as teams look to fill out their roster, here’s a position-by-position look at the best players that are still on the market as of today:
POINT GUARDS: Nate Robinson, Derek Fisher, Delonte West, Jonny Flynn, Keyon Dooling, Gilbert Arenas, Jannero Pargo, Baron Davis, A.J. Price, Sundiata Gaines, Mike Bibby, Earl Boykins, Mike James, Ben Uzoh, Ish Smith, Anthony Carter, Blake Ahearn, Manny Harris, Maalik Wayns.
SHOOTING GUARDS: Leandro Barbosa, Ronnie Brewer, Brandon Rush, Sonny Weems, Jodie Meeks, Martell Webster, Marquis Daniels, Michael Redd, Willie Green, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Sasha Vujacic, Maurice Evans, Sam Young, Roger Mason, Dionte Christmas, Alan Anderson, Terrel Harris, DeAndre Liggins, Jermaine Taylor, Von Wafer, Xavier Silas, Bill Walker, Josh Akognon, Darington Hobson.
SMALL FORWARDS: Andrei Kirilenko, Carlos Delfino, Josh Howard, Matt Barnes, Alonzo Gee, Michael Pietrus, C.J. Miles, Tracy McGrady, Josh Childress, Terrence Williams, Donte Green, Shawne Williams, Damion James, Bobby Simmons, Jason Kapono, Derrick Brown, Jamario Moon, Joey Graham, Damian Wilkins, Rasual Butler, Al Thornton, Adam Morrison, DaJuan Summers, James Singelton.
POWER FORWARDS: Carl Landry, Kenyon Martin, Anthony Tolliver, Ivan Johnson, Craig Smith, Lou Amundson, Ronny Turiaf, Shelden Williams, Troy Murphy, Dominic McGuire, D.J. White, Yi Jianlian, Brian Cardinal, Craig Brackins, Brian Scalabrine, Leon Powe, Juwan Howard, Chris Wright, Malcolm Thomas, Hilton Armstrong, Eduardo Najera, Brian Cook, Chris Johnson, Francisco Elson, Lance Thomas.
CENTERS: Robin Lopez, Darko Milicic, Ben Wallace, Greg Oden, Mehmet Okur, Jermaine O’Neal, Joel Przybilla, Kyrylo Fesenko, Hamed Haddadi, Daniel Orton, Tony Battie, Eddy Curry, Jamaal Magloire, Mickell Gladness, Mikki Moore, Dan Gadzuric, Erick Dampier, Solomon Alabi, Keith Benson.
Jackson Optimistic About Warriors’ Future: Last season, the Golden State Warriors were 23-43 in Mark Jackson’s first year coaching the team. Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut were injured for most of the season with ankle issues and the Warriors were never at full strength. Now, entering his second season on the sidelines, Jackson believes Golden State can make some noise if they’re able to stay healthy.
“We feel really good about where we’re at right now,” Jackson told HOOPSWORLD. “The most important thing for us is going to be health. When you talk about Steph Curry and Andrew Bogut, if we get those guys back, healthy and playing how we expect them to play, we’ll be just fine.”
The decision to trade Monta Ellis to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for Bogut was difficult, but Jackson said that the team couldn’t resist acquiring one of the top centers in the league at last year’s trade deadline. While Bogut missed all of last season with a fractured left ankle, Jackson is confident that he’ll make a big impact for Golden State once he’s able to take the court.
“We loved Monta Ellis, what he brought to the table and he was certainly great for me to have as a first-time coach,” Jackson said. “That being said, we were able to turn him into a top-five center in the league, in our opinion, in Andrew Bogut when he’s healthy. He’s a guy who is going to anchor our defense, he’s a post presence and he’s a great rebounder. We feel that we got a steal in Andrew Bogut. Now, it’s about putting pieces around him and getting healthy.”
Golden State isn’t done making moves. The team continues to look at a number of free agents. Jackson acknowledged that the team wants to add a big man, and they’ve been linked to power forwards such as Carl Landry, Kenyon Martin and Dominic McGuire in recent weeks.
“We just want to continue to add depth,” Jackson said. “Obviously, I think we need another big body. We’re going to pay attention to what’s out there and continue to try to get better by any means necessary.”