The Dwight Howard Saga may ultimately end in the most anticlimactic fashion imaginable.
Rather than trading him to the Los Angeles Lakers, Brooklyn Nets or Houston Rockets, the Orlando Magic seem to be leaning towards keeping their disgruntled big man through next season.
Over the past two weeks, in the midst of ten million different reports that had Howard going everywhere from L.A. to Houston, the one thing that everyone seemed to agree on was that the Magic would trade their guy at some point. Hours, days, weeks – the timeframes for a potential trade varied, but the end result was always the same: Howard in a different uniform.
Well, as it turns out, that may not be how this awful soap opera actually concludes. Via Chris Broussard of ESPN:
The Orlando Magic have told rival executives that they might not trade Dwight Howard after all, according to league sources.
An executive who has had discussions with the Magic regarding Howard said Orlando only will trade the star center in a deal that is great for the franchise. The executive said this has been Orlando's stance for the past "week or so."
And here is the kicker, as per that same report:
Another executive who has talked with Orlando said he thinks the Magic may start the season with Howard and wait until the February trade deadline to move him.
That last bit is significant for two reasons: 1.) it means that the Nets, who supposedly pulled out of the Dwight Howard Sweepstakes two weeks ago, can once try to get him. Because they re-signed Brook Lopez to a massive new deal, Brooklyn can’t trade him until January; if Orlando doesn’t move Howard until February, Lopez will once again become a tradable piece (with a big contract) who can be sent to the Magic. 2.) it means that Orlando legitimately feels like pressed up against the trade deadline, with everyone knowing that Howard will want to walk come the end of the year, they can still get a better deal than what they’re being offered now.
According to Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld, Magic brass will attempt to make one final last-ditch attempt to retain Howard, too. Via his report:
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.
Will the plea work? Probably not. Howard wants out and, even though he’s been known to change his mind a lot, it’s hard to envision a scenario where he’ll suddenly decide that Orlando is the place for him.
Here is what this latest development really means, though: it means that Brooklyn’s chances of landing Howard have at least doubled. Even if the Nets don’t trade for him, there’s a higher likelihood now that the Magic will lose Howard at the end of next year (because they can't find a good deal for him at the deadline) – at which point he’ll just leave and go to Brooklyn on his own free will.