Denton: Howard to Nets Deal Likely Dead, Hennigan Still Exploring Options

By John Denton
July 11, 2012

ORLANDO – Though anything certainly could change considering the topsy-turvy nature of this manic NBA free agency period, Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan on Wednesday basically ruled out a Dwight Howard deal with the Brooklyn Nets, the star center’s preferred destination if he is traded.

Hennigan talked to Howard on Wednesday, informing him that trade talks between the Magic and the Nets were being suspended because the return for the Magic would not be in the best interest of the franchise. Hennigan described the talks with the superstar center as ``conversational, respectful, professional and business-like.’’

Howard, a six-time all-star and a five-time first-team All-NBA pick, recently asked to be traded and has said publicly that playing for Brooklyn is his first option. But after two weeks of talks with the Nets, Hennigan described those talks on Wednesday as being ``in a stationary position.’’

``Anything is possible,’’ Hennigan said when asked if a trade with the Nets could be revived. ``But with the talks that we’ve had up to this point there’s probably not a whole lot there.’’

Hennigan also said that the Magic have interviewed several candidates to be the team’s next head coach and that the process had made some significant progress.

Hennigan said he had yet to formally determine a list of finalists, but added that a hire for the coaching job could come as soon as next week.

``We’ve made what I consider to be some pretty good headway in that regard,’’ Hennigan said. ``We’re still working through our research and buttoning up some things, but I can say that we’re making progress and coming up with some clarity in the very near future.’’

The Nets could fall completely out of the Howard sweepstakes if they sign center Brook Lopez, a restricted free agent, to a four-year, $58 million contract or a five-year, $78 million offer. Lopez missed most of last season with a foot injury.

Hennigan said that the Magic have been in talks with several teams about the possibility of dealing Howard, the franchise’s all-time leader in points, rebounds and blocked shots. The Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets have reportedly been trying to entice the Magic into a deal. Under the proposed parameters of that transaction, the Lakers would get Howard, the Rockets would receive Andrew Bynum and the Magic would acquire a mix of salary cap relief, young players and draft picks.

Hennigan said the utmost of concern now is doing what’s best for the organization and keeping Magic fans informed about the proceedings. He said that the Magic fanbase should know that any decisions will be process-driven and that they will only be done if they give the Magic a better chance to be successful in the long term.

``We want what’s best for the organization and our fans deserve that,’’ Hennigan said. ``Our fans deserve to know that whoever is on our roster will be about certain things and will be invested in the organization. We want our fans to know that we’re going to make decisions that will put our organization in a situation to be successful.

That can take a lot of different shapes and forms, but at the end of the day our fans have an incredible investment and level of commitment emotionally and other ways. So I can assure our fans that whatever decision we make will be based on what we feel is best for the Orlando Magic.’’

If the Magic decide to deal Howard, they likely would begin reconstructing the roster entirely. Captain Jameer Nelson has been re-signed, while the Magic declined an option to waive shooting guard J.J. Redick. The team did execute a sign-and-trade deal with New Orleans for 3-point shooting power forward Ryan Anderson after he received a four-year, $36 million deal from the Hornets. The Magic got back Gustavo Ayon, but they also retained ``strategically flexible’’ by not matching a deal for Anderson for approximately $9 million a season.

Hennigan said there are still too many variables in play to determine what course the Howard saga takes over the next week or so. Could the franchise center possibly return to the only NBA team he’s ever played for? Could Howard be a Laker at some point? Could the talks with the Nets re-open at some point? All of those still seem to be options at this point, Hennigan said.

``We have a mixture of priorities and the hierarchy is not concrete. The priorities that we have are sort of fluid,’’ he said. ``I really don’t have an answer for X, Y and Z because it’s not that simple. It’s a mixture of the things based on the variables and the things that exist out there.’’

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Magic and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.



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