Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Updated: December 14, 9:12 AM ET
Dwight Howard's wish list said short
By Chris Broussard
ESPN The Magazine
While the Orlando Magic are keeping all of their options open, Dwight Howard is not.
There are only four teams that Howard would sign a long-term contract with, according to a source close to the situation -- the Magic, New Jersey Nets, Dallas Mavericks or Los Angeles Lakers.
That severely limits the trade possibilities for Orlando, which has said it will not rule out trading Howard to any of the league's 29 other teams. Without a long-term commitment from Howard, no club is likely to put an enticing offer on the table.
Howard's stance essentially relegates the Magic, whose ideal scenario is to re-sign Howard, to trade talks only with the Nets, Mavericks and Lakers.
There has been speculation that the Chicago Bulls might be a possible destination for Howard because the Bulls offer a big-city environment, a superstar in Derrick Rose, and plenty of talent to send back to Orlando. But Howard's refusal to sign there ends that possibility.
While Orlando will field offers for its All-Star center, it also will take its time in an attempt to rebuild its relationship with Howard and improve the strength of its team.
New Magic CEO Alex Martins met with Howard Monday morning at Amway Center. Afterward, Howard sounded as if he he had softened his stance against staying in Orlando, as long as there are some changes.
"I love this city, there is no place I'd rather be but Orlando," Howard said. "I just want to make sure we have the right things here so we can win a championship. I'm all about change. If you're willing to change and you're willing to do what it takes to win, then, you know, you got me."
Martins, who took over at CEO just last week after the surprising resignation of Bob Vander Weide, is making a strong public stance that the franchise believes it can keep Howard and convince him to extend his contract. Howard has the option to become a free agent next summer, which created the leverage to force a trade.
On Friday, the Magic announced they would allow Howard to speak with the Lakers, Nets and Mavericks about a trade.
A day later Howard announced he'd indeed asked to be traded. Then, on Sunday night, he followed up with an explanation that his relationship with Magic general manager Otis Smith had eroded, in part because Smith had not acquired players Howard had suggested in the past several years.
Chris Broussard is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst contributed to this report.