After months of Dwight Howard trade discussion, rumors, frustration and fear from the Orlando Magic fanbase, it appears the franchise center now wants to stay put.
Perhaps all the “Don’t Go!” signs started to wear on him. Maybe his possible trade destinations were not appealing enough. Or maybe that whole “I want a trade and I want it now” attitude was just a charade designed to help the good people of Orlando realize how lucky they are to have Superman on their basketball team.
There’s also nothing quite like an overtime victory against the Heat to cheer up a locker room.
Today in San Antonio, Howard called a meeting to tell his teammates that he is “all in” for the rest of the season, according to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski and Mark J. Spears of Yahoo Sports.
Two Magic players said DH told players at shootaround to keeping doing jobs, be accountable and they have a chance to win. Nothing on opt-in— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) March 14, 2012
In the post-game locker room following Tuesday’s 104-98 win over the Heat, Howard told reporters something similar.
“Well, I told the guys, I’ve been telling them for the past two or three weeks now that I want to stay and finish the season,” Howard said. “I told them I feel we have a great opportunity to win and I told them that I want to be here and I want to bring a championship here. I told them they’ve got to give me that chance. They didn’t trade me at the beginning of the season and I told them I’d go out and play as hard as I could every night to put our team in a position to win.”
But Howard and his agent have yet to sign a waiver of the early termination option on his contract — which runs through next season. And ESPN is citing sources who say Howard’s public plea has the Magic pursuing a trade more aggressively than ever.
“Dwight’s dreaming if he thinks Orlando won’t trade him without a commitment,” a source told ESPN. “He needs to make some small commitment to them. They’re saying it can’t be one way.”
At this point it seems highly unlikely that the two parties could work out a maximum long-term contract extension, but an agreement to keep Howard in Orlando through the end of his contract could be a sufficient consolation prize for the Magic.
While Howard and the Magic remain in limbo, several other NBA stars are already on the move as Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline approaches. In the biggest deal so far, the Milwaukee Bucks and Golden State Warriors put together a multi-player trade Wednesday that moved one of the many players previously discussed as a potential lure to keep Howard in Orlando.
The Bucks sent former No. 1 pick Andrew Bogut and guard Stephen Jackson to Golden State for high-scoring combo guard Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and former No. 1 pick Kwame Brown. The Magic had previously inquired about a way to bring Ellis to Orlando to appease Howard’s requests for reinforcements.
What do you think? Will Howard be in Orlando for the rest of the season?
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