Dwight Howard explains trade demands
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Dwight Howard's trade demand from the Orlando Magic is due in part to the organization not granting his requests for specific trades and signings over the last several years, the All-Star center said Sunday night.
Howard requested a trade during several meetings last week and has been given permission by the Magic to have contact with the New Jersey Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks. He went public with the demand Saturday and then followed that up with a strong explanation Sunday, referring to an eroding relationship with Magic general manager Otis Smith.
If you don't have a good relationship with the people you work with, how are you going to get better?” -- Dwight Howard
"I'm pretty sure if you go down the line of teams, every GM has a pretty good relationship with not just the best player but all the players," Howard said. "If you don't have a good relationship with the people you work with, how are you going to get better?"
Orlando is not limiting its Howard trade talks to the three teams, sources close to the situation told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard on Monday. But while the Magic have opened up the talks, they are also holding out hope they can convince Howard, who has vacillated often on his desire to stay or go, to remain in Orlando, a source said.
The Magic would like Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol from the Lakers, but a source said the Lakers' offer was expected to be Bynum, the trade exceptions acquired in a Lamar Odom trade to Dallas, and two draft picks.
The Nets would attempt to sign Gilbert Arenas if they are able to trade for Howard, a source close to situation told Broussard.
Smith has made several large trades over the last two years in an effort to strengthen the team around Howard before he hit free agency in 2012, trading for Vince Carter before the 2009-10 season and then trading for Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu during last season.
Howard said he pushed for other moves that were not made.
"The stuff that I have asked for, the stuff I felt our team needed to get better, none of it has happened," Howard said. "That's not me being cocky but I want to be involved with the organization. I've been here for a long time, I don't want to sit around."
In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel Sunday night, Smith said he had consulted Howard on trades and other moves.
"When it's your best player, you really do consult your best player on everything? You do," Smith said. "So you consult your best player on free agency. You consult your best players on trades. And that's not uncommon. And I have done that."
Howard declined to be specific about what players he wanted the Magic to acquire but said they weren't all stars or high-salaried players.
"These weren't special guys, just guys I felt would be great for our team," Howard said. "It wasn't guys that would take us over the cap or anything like that. It was just guys that I felt would help us on the inside and the outside."
Smith acknowledged that Howard had come to him with suggestions over the years but he didn't make moves for various reasons.
"We looked at some; some we have, some we don't," Smith said. "So I'm not necessarily saying that he isn't accurate. I think that there was a list. Some of them are duplicate talent, which is something you can't do all the time. Some, quite frankly, are on your roster."
Howard and Smith have not spoken since last Tuesday, when he had a second meeting since the ending of the lockout and repeated his trade request. The silence seemed to be irking him as well.
"There was a good relationship then we haven't talked, we should still talk," Howard said. "I've been here for seven years. No matter what happens, we still should be able to talk. I don't know why, I don't know what happened. ... We've had long talks throughout the summer, very long talks. That's all I can tell you."
Howard has referenced talking to the Magic over the summer several times in recent days. It was permitted to talk to the team until July 1 before the lockout began. Teams were only permitted to start speaking to players again last Monday, when Howard first made his trade request.
The Magic's payroll for this season will approach $100 million, one of the highest in the NBA. Within the last week they have added to it by agreeing to more than $50 million in new deals to bring in veteran forward Glen Davis and re-sign guard Jason Richardson. But the other move the team made was to release Arenas via the amnesty clause, a move Howard was not in favor of.
Despite his displeasure, Howard said he didn't want Smith's job but rather the input other star players around the NBA have on personnel matters.
"I'm not a GM, I never said I wanted to be a GM," Howard said.
"What I said was I want to be involved. Everybody has a right to be involved. ... I should want to be involved. I should want to say 'hey, this is what we need, this is what we need to do.' If I didn't care, I wouldn't have said anything. Obviously I care enough about this team that I've asked them and I want to be involved. If you don't like something, you'd just walk away. If you want to be involved you'd do anything you can. If you don't get it, what do you do?"
Howard also said he felt he was being respectful to the organization by informing them to trade him now instead of losing him to free agency and get nothing in return. The franchise was devastated in 1996 when Shaquille O'Neal left the team via free agency.
"That's what I sat down with Otis and ownership and told them how I felt and I told them we should do it as quietly as possible," Howard said.
"I told them if something happens, I would never leave this organization high and dry like that and they understand that. This is a business and you have to do what is best for you at the end of the day."
Brian Windhorst covers the NBA for ESPN.com.