- Ric Bucher, NBA Reporter, ESPN The Magazine Senior Writer
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The agent for Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard confirmed NBA commissioner David Stern's accusation that Howard's representatives were the sources that provided details of Wednesday's private meeting in Los Angeles with Magic officials.
However, the agent said, those representatives did so only after media members were tipped off to the meeting taking place by some other source and out of concern that subsequent reports about the content of the meeting would be inaccurate.
"It's very unique, especially if it's driven by a quote source that happens to be Dwight's agent," Stern told USA Today. "'A source in the meeting.' Oh, OK, who might that be?"
Stern reportedly did not believe the leak came from the Magic.
"No, I don't (think it's GM Rob Hennigan), and I don't think it's (CEO) Alex Martins either," Stern told the newspaper.
Howard reiterated to Hennigan during the meeting in Los Angeles that he still wants to be traded and will leave as a free agent after next season.
"On the morning prior to Wednesday's supposedly confidential meeting between Dwight Howard and Rob Hennigan, there were media reports stating a meeting was taking place later that same day," wrote agent Dan Fegan of LaGardere Unlimited in an email. "Prior to the actual meeting, Dwight's business manager and I met with Rob, reminded him that we had not requested the meeting, had been reluctant to take it and were concerned that the Magic had leaked that a meeting was taking place.
"Both during and after the meeting, we continued to get communications from the media telling us that they had confirmation that the meeting was occurring and/or had taken place. After the meeting, some media requested comments on information they allegedly already had on what had taken place in the meeting. I want to stress that none of the information the reporters had about the meeting at this point came from us.
"After receiving these media inquiries, I called Rob and left several messages expressing concern that what had occurred in the meeting was not going to be accurately reported -- as had happened on previous occasions -- and that we were going to respond to the media inquiries to make sure that reports were accurate. To a limited extent, that is what we did."
Wednesday's meeting followed sourced reports earlier in the week that the Magic were prepared to keep Howard on their team next season rather than fulfill his request to be traded. That stance contradicts a statement by Martins, in which he said the franchise would indeed trade Howard if that was his wish.
Hennigan, while not being that direct, said he will not keep any player who doesn't want to be with the organization. Magic ownership, sources say, are on board with fulfilling Howard's trade request after initially resisting it last season. Howard first made his desire to be traded early last season, and former Magic GM Otis Smith began exploring the team's options.
Martins, however, stepped in, according to sources, and convinced ownership that he could persuade Howard to change his mind. He did -- at least temporarily.
On the brink of the March 15 trade deadline, Howard agreed to exercise his player's option for the final year of his contract rather than become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Sourced reports on how Howard came to that decision (including a phone call to owner Rich DeVos during a game before signing the opt-in clause) and his feelings since (that he told friends the Magic "blackmailed" him) have been disputed by both Howard and Fegan.
Since May, Howard has been consistent in conversations with Martins and now Hennigan that he wants to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets.
There was a sourced report that Howard had softened his position and that he also would be willing to re-sign if traded to the Lakers, but Fegan responded to that report by saying that Howard would not commit long term to any team, including the Nets, prior to becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer.
9hMatt Walks, ESPN.com