Dwight Howard still wants trade

Updated: July 26, 2012, 2:50 PM ET
By Chris Broussard and Ramona Shelburne | ESPN.com

Dwight Howard reiterated to Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan during a meeting Wednesday in Los Angeles that he still wants to be traded and will leave as a free agent after next season.

The Magic considered the meeting an opportunity to check in with Howard and brief him on their plans going forward, league sources told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard.

The Los Angeles Lakers would seem to be a team that has moved on with their business as the Magic pulled back on trade talks involving Howard.

The Lakers introduced new forward Antawn Jamison on Wednesday, announced the re-signing of forward Jordan Hill and have had preliminary discussions about an extension for center Andrew Bynum.

While Orlando regroups to assess its options on Howard, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said as far as he's concerned, the door remains open for the team to make an impact trade.

"Typically it slows down in August, but the brakes are never on," Kupchak said coyly.

The Lakers' position on Howard has remained relatively unchanged for the past few months, league sources familiar with the situation have told ESPNLosAngeles.com. The Lakers always have been willing to trade for Howard without assurances he'd re-sign with them after the season, believing that once Howard experienced a championship culture, he would want to stay.

However, the Lakers also remain unwilling to take back burdensome contracts from Orlando that would subject them to the most punitive luxury-tax penalties under the new collective bargaining agreement, according to sources.

The Lakers also lost the ability to include future first-round draft choices after including their 2013 and 2015 first-round picks in a sign-and-trade with Phoenix for Steve Nash earlier this month.

Although the pace of the talks has frustrated executives and hamstrung business around the league, the Lakers seem to have found a way of remaining open to a trade for Howard while still going about their business.

Kupchak said Wednesday he's had "positive and productive" conversations with Bynum's agent in recent days.

Under the terms of the new CBA, Bynum would be eligible to sign a three-year extension before the start of the season. Or he could play out this season, become an unrestricted free agent and sign for four years with another club or re-sign with the Lakers for five years.

"You can argue both sides," Kupchak said when asked whether he had developed a sense of Bynum's thinking on the issue. "The risks associated with playing out a contract versus bird in hand. That's something each player or representative weighs and evaluates on their own.

"I remember when I signed with the Lakers. I was coming off two back surgeries and I know what I told my agent. So you can argue it either way. If you feel you're never going to get hurt and you're healthy, God's in your corner. You can take a risk and become a free agent and deal with all of the abundancies of free agency. Everybody evaluates that differently. I know how I looked at it."

Bynum has been plagued by injuries throughout his career. This was the first year he's made it through a full season without a significant injury.

When reached by ESPNLosAngeles.com Wednesday afternoon, Bynum's agent, David Lee, said he wasn't sure which direction Bynum was leaning, and denied he'd had any substantive conversations with Kupchak about an extension.

"We talk all the time, but we've never had a conversation about an extension," Lee said. "(We haven't talked) about anything of any substance regarding next year or the following year or the following year."

Asked if they had decided if it's beneficial to sign for three years on top of the final year and $16.1 million Bynum is owed for 2012-13, Lee said: "He generally addresses things as they come to fruition. As I've said before, if we were to talk about everything that comes out, every trade rumor, we'd spend more time talking about other teams than the Lakers.

"To discuss a hypothetical would be a waste of our time."

Bynum has been the subject of trade rumors for most of his career and is somewhat used to them by now. Lee reiterated that any notion this latest round of speculation would sour Bynum on the Lakers is incorrect.

"I haven't heard him say anything negative about the Lakers," Lee said. "I know that (Lakers executive vice president of basketball operations) Jim Buss has reached out. I'm not sure that he's been successful yet."

Last week, Lee told ESPNLosAngeles.com that it would be "foolish" for any team to trade for his client without first speaking to Bynum to gauge his interest in signing an extension or long-term contract.

The Lakers so far have not granted the Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, Magic or any team permission to speak directly with Bynum or his representatives.

Lee also denied that Bynum had a list of preferred destinations, saying he and Bynum chuckled when they read reports while on vacation in Alaska last week indicating he already had made such decisions.

However, sources have told Broussard that Bynum likely would not sign an extension anywhere else but with the Lakers this summer because it benefits him financially to wait until after the season so he can get a longer, more lucrative deal.

The inability to decipher Bynum's intentions complicated trade talks last week, and Broussard subsequently reported the Magic may not trade Howard after all.

Howard has been steadfast in his desire to be traded since the end of last season, telling Hennigan last month during their first face-to-face meeting that he wanted to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets.

But with Howard under contract for next season, the only firm deadline Orlando faces is next season's trade deadline. By then, the Nets would be free to trade center Brook Lopez, whom they signed to a four-year extension once talks with the Magic broke down earlier this month.

Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin was used in this report.

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