The one big-name that was talked about more than any during this shortened NBA season in terms of potentially being trade before the NBA trade deadline was Dwight Howard. With Howard showing his discontent with the Orlando Magic and wanting to play in the bigger market, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year made it known that he wanted to be traded elsewhere before the deadline.
Despite numerous reports of a potential trade happening which would send Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers or the New Jersey Nets, no deal was ever completed with Howard deciding last-minute to stay with the Orlando Magic for at least one more season. After waiving his opt-clause in his current contract with the Magic, GM Otis Smith and whichever coach replaces Stan Van Gundy (if he doesn’t return) will have to deal with this fiasco all over again if the franchise can’t bring in better talent to surround the league’s best center.
Interestingly enough, news has surfaced that Howard didn’t want to get traded to Los Angeles and therefore decided to stay in Orlando with New Jersey unable to come up with a better package than the Lakers were offering via Fred Kerber of NYPost.com:
According to league sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Orlando brass got fed up with Howard’s yes-no-maybe posturing and threatened to trade him to the Lakers, not his desired location (the Nets), if he did not sign an agreement to waive the opt-out clause for the final season of his contract. Howard eventually signed the papers, but only after he was told “he would be a Laker by the end of the day,” according to one source.
Orlando played its trump card. Sources for months maintained Howard wanted no part of the Lakers, that he did not want to follow the legacy of Shaquille O’Neal. Orlando leaders had one other reason for the threat: They favored the Lakers’ package of Andrew Bynum, Devin Ebanks and Steve Blake over the Nets’ offer.
So it appears that Dwight Howard was on the verge of heading to the City of Angels right before the NBA trade deadline and chose to take a different route by staying with the Orlando Magic. This is interesting to say the least as it shows just how much Howard didn’t want to follow in Shaquille O’Neal’s footsteps or play alongside Kobe Bryant.
Even though all the trade talk and speculation has disappeared after the NBA trade deadline came and went, I’ll bet things will start to heat up once again in Orlando this summer; especially if the Magic get bounced early in the playoffs.