Magic Prepared to Trade Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard’s days with the Orlando Magic are likely numbered. The Magic are actively shopping Howard and new general manager Rob Hennigan is prepared to trade the superstar center, according to sources close to the situation.
When Hennigan interviewed for the job, he made it clear that he would be willing to trade Howard if necessary. Now, with the relationship between the player and organization unsalvageable, Howard will likely be dealt at some point in the near future. Orlando has already started negotiating with a number of potential suitors, according to sources.
Since taking the job, Hennigan has told people around the league that if Howard didn’t want to be in Orlando, he would be traded. On Friday, Howard met face-to-face with Hennigan in Los Angeles. The six-time All-Star reiterated his unhappiness with the organization and asked to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets. While Howard wants to be dealt to Brooklyn, it’s unlikely that the Magic will send him to the Nets since other teams have more attractive assets to offer.
The Houston Rockets continue their pursuit of Howard and are one of several teams willing to acquire the All-Star center without a long-term commitment in place. Houston has no problem trading for Howard as a rental. Best-case scenario, he signs a long-term deal in Houston. Worst-case scenario, the team is relevant for one season, makes a postseason run and then has the cap space to rebuild. The Rockets are aggressively pursuing Howard and will offer just about anything on their roster to land him.
Howard wants to land in Brooklyn and, after realizing that a trade to the Nets was unlikely, he contacted the National Basketball Players Association to explore his legal options against the Magic. He claims that members of the organization “blackmailed” him and threatened him into opting in to the final year of his contract, but sources close to the situation say there isn’t much evidence to support Howard’s claims. Howard personally contacted the union last week, asking if there was any way they could facilitate a trade to Brooklyn or nullify his opt-in to make him an unrestricted free agent this summer. It’s unlikely that the union will take legal action on behalf of Howard, according to sources close to the situation.
This is just the latest in a string of events that have caused many within the Magic organization to grow tired of Howard. Several of Howard’s teammates are hoping for his departure as well. Toward the end of last season, Howard came close to a physical altercation with teammate Jameer Nelson at the Magic’s practice facility. Howard was sidelined with a back injury at the time, but nearly came to blows with Nelson for unknown reasons, according to sources. The two players had to be separated.
Nobody in the Magic organization wants to go through another drama-filled year, which is why all signs point to Howard being traded sooner rather than later.