NBA AM: Magic Still Not Trading Dwight Howard
The Dwight Situation: The Orlando Magic are sitting at 6-3 on the NBA season, which puts them two games behind Miami for first place, but ranks them 6th in the East because of the logjam of two- and three-loss teams in the East so far this season.
The fact that Orlando has been winning games lulled some fans into a false sense of optimism regarding Dwight Howard, something both Howard and team president Otis Smith shattered yesterday in Sacramento when both revealed nothing has changed in Howard’s desire to be elsewhere.
“Nothing has changed,” Howard said to Marc Spears of Yahoo!. “There is no need to focus on everything else besides going out every night and playing hard for 48 minutes or however long I’m on the court. All the other stuff is up to the Magic. For me, I’m going to be Dwight every night. Have fun on the court, entertain the fans, block shots, run the floor, rebound, do whatever I got to do to win.
“That’s the only thing I can control at this point. There is no need for me to get involved with anything else. I’ve said all I can say about it, and I just want to play basketball.”
“I don’t think they are going to do anything right now because we’re winning,” Howard said. “Even if this is the last season, let’s go out hard, regardless.”
Magic president Otis Smith was asked about the comments and he confirmed to reporters that Howard has not withdrawn his request for a trade, and that nothing has changed on that front.
“I think his leaving or going has nothing to do with Orlando,” Smith said to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. “I think he wants a bigger market. I can’t do anything about that.”
While simplifying Howard’s issues with the Magic as Dwight wanting a bigger market, is easy to say, the reality is Howard’s beef is bigger than just market size.
Sources close to the process say Howard’s issues are simply that he does not believe he can ever win a championship in Orlando.
The advisers in Howard’s life have sold him on the idea that the Magic as a franchise will never win because of how they do business.
Howard has openly questioned how the Magic conduct business comparing how the Magic handle and market him to how his peers in other markets are handled regarding marketing, coaching and involvement in the decision-making process.
Howard has been told how restrictive the new economic landscape in the NBA will be and how limited the roster options are going forward. Howard has bought into the idea that it simply won’t happen in Orlando, and that’s where his trade demands have come from.
Howard admitted last night his thought process might be unpopular, but he has given his stance a lot of thought.
“I’ve talked to a lot of guys,” Howard said.
“It’s the same thing: You have to do what’s best for you, regardless of what anybody else says. It’s your life and you have to live it your way. You can’t do it how everybody wants you to do it or be afraid or be upset about what people are saying, because they’re not the ones that have to go through it. Sometimes, you’ve got to make tough decisions, and you’ve got to always take care of you and your family first, because nobody else will.”
Fans want to boil the Howard situation down to fixing the roster via trade. That’s only one small and visible part of the problem.
To be fair, the Magic have responded to Dwight’s criticisms and have started to change how they do things in an effort to keep Howard in town, however there still seems to be inevitability that Howard will be gone from Orlando.
Magic sources continue to say that even with things between the team and player being largely unchanged, there is still a belief Howard will not walk away from the money the Magic have to offer under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and if the Magic can make some moves they could turn the tide in their favor.
It’s hard to imagine Howard is still on the Magic roster past the trade deadline on March 15th, but sources close to the team continue to say that Magic ownership will not approve a trade sending out Howard… maybe that’s why Howard choose to get on the soapbox during this west coast road trip.
The one thing that remains clear is Howard and the Magic are together now; how long that lasts is likely tied to the win-loss columns, especially as the trade deadline approaches in just 66 days.
Mashburn, The Owner? Jamal Mashburn played thirteen seasons in the NBA and earned more than $75 million in his playing career.
According to reports Mashburn owns 37 Papa John’s pizza restaurants, 30 Outback Steakhouses, two car dealerships and a real estate company in the state of Kentucky.
While taking part in a basketball tournament between Chinese and American students in Beijing, Mashburn talked about his business interests and his desire to get back into the NBA possibly as part of an ownership group trying to buy the New Orleans Hornets.
“For me, being in business is always something I wanted to do. When I was a kid riding on trains in New York, I saw older people carrying a briefcase. I was always curious what was in them. That’s probably my original inspiration,” Mashburn told Sun Xiaochen of China Daily.
“I had talent as a basketball player, so I used it as a vehicle to open doors and meet people. I am not a guy who wants to be a one-night wonder. I want to continue my legacy as a businessman. It gives people a chance to see me as more than just a former pro athlete.”
Mashburn revealed he has spoken to NBA commissioner David Stern about his interest in buying the Hornets.
“I can be an asset to a team as an owner, not only for my ability to scout talent, but also understand the business side of things. The first all-star of the Hornets comes back to buy the team, it’s going to be a great story,” Mashburn said.
Sources close to the process say the NBA has all of the parts in place to move the Hornets back to a private owner.
The NBA has worked out the majority of the details on a long-term lease agreement that would keep the team in New Orleans through 2025. There is a new TV agreement that seems ready to drop that would increase broadcasting rights almost three-fold. And for the first time in a long time, the team has 10,000 season ticket holders.
Sources say as many as nine qualified buyers have expressed interest in the Hornets, but only one can say they actually wore a Hornets jersey.
The NBA hopes to complete a sale transaction with the Hornets to one of the nine possible suitors in the first half of 2012.
Is Flip Saunders Next? Paul Westphal was the first NBA coach fired, being relieved of his duties in Sacramento on Friday.
Wizards’ head coach Flip Saunders seems like the next likely candidate.
The winless Wizards are now 0-8 on the season, but worse yet is statistically the young guys in Washington are regressing. When you listen to the comments coming from the players, none of them understand what’s going on around them and that falls back to coaching.
Flip Saunders who is in his third year of a four-year, $18 million deal has amassed a 38-123 record as the Wizards’ coach.
“I’m going to go home tonight and I’m going to see what I can do as a coach to get us better because evidently right now, I haven’t done a good enough job,” Saunders said to Michael Lee of The Washington Post. “That’s evident because we’re not totally getting through to some guys, and some guys continue to play the way they want to play and not the way that we need to play as a team.”
The Wizards were blown out at home last night 93-72 by Minnesota in a game that was never close. The hometown fans booed the team feverishly and the discontent of the fans was mirrored by the Wizards’ coach.
“It was bad to watch. It was bad to coach. It was bad to play,” Saunders said. “Disappointment. Embarrassment. I don’t know if words can explain. My job over the next two days is to try to find five guys that can play the right way and can play with some heart.”
The Wizards face the 3-5 Toronto Raptors on Tuesday, then travel to Chicago to face the 7-2 Bulls on Wednesday.
If the Wizards cannot find a win over the next two games, that would put them at 0-10 on the season and it’s hard to imagine Flip Saunders keeping his job after that.
The 2012 NBA Mock Draft: We took our first stab at the 2012 NBA Draft, with the first of many Mock Drafts going live yesterday.
With the Washington Wizards looking poised for another top pick, the obvious choice is Kentucky big man Anthony Davis.
With the second pick, the New Jersey Nets would have to strongly consider UNC’s Harrison Barnes, although with Brook Lopez being a huge questions market going forward, UCONN big man Andre Drummond or Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger would be the next likely targets.
The Kings with the third pick likely go best talent on the board, leaving them Jared Sullinger or Baylor’s Perry Jones to pair with DeMarcus Cousins.
Check out the entire two-round mock here, and looking for semi-monthly updates as we march down to the 2012 NBA Draft on June 28th.
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