Denton: Nothing Imminent in Howard Trade Talks

By John Denton
July 12, 2012

ORLANDO – Even with the Houston Rockets seemingly making moves to position themselves to acquire superstar center Dwight Howard and potentially several others from the Orlando Magic, GM Rob Hennigan said Thursday night that no trade was imminent.

In fact, Hennigan said that the day after the Magic essentially ended trade talks with the Brooklyn Nets – Howard’s preferred destination – that ``it’s been pretty quiet today.’’

The Rockets reportedly were close to using the amnesty clause on veteran power forward Luis Scola in order to clear him off the salary cap books. By doing so, Houston would save $21 million in salary cap room over the next three years. The move is somewhat alarming because Scola averaged 15.5 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season and is one of Houston’s best returning offensive players.

The move could allow the Rockets, reportedly desperate to get involved in the sweepstakes, to get Howard and also absorb some of the Magic’s long-term contracts.

Hedo Turkoglu is still owed $23 million over the next two seasons, while Jason Richardson ($18 million), Chris Duhon ($7 million), Quentin Richardson ($5.4 million) and Earl Clark ($1.2 million) also have extended deals. Also, the Rockets could be offering a lottery pick that Houston acquired last week in the Kyle Lowry trade and any of its three first-round picks from last month’s draft.

But Hennigan said on Thursday following the Magic’s 77-75 double-overtime defeat of Philadelphia in Summer League action that no transaction is close at this time. He said he didn’t consider Houston’s release of Scola to be a move designed at specifically acquiring Howard.

``I don’t think it (makes a trade more likely) to any degree at this point,’’ Hennigan said. ``I don’t think there’s a real correlation to anything with Luis as to how it relates to us.’’

Hennigan said he heard about an report that Howard still wants a trade out of Orlando, but had not read the story.

``We’re still talking to Dwight and keeping all of the specifics between us,’’ he said. ``We just talked. I explained the situation to him and he explained his situation to us and that was really it. It was just an exchange of what’s going.’’

Asked if he knew that Howard still wanted out of Orlando, but couldn’t say so in order to maintain the integrity of the relationship, Hennigan said: ``That’s not necessarily true.’’

Howard asked Hennigan for a trade in June, stressing that his preferred destination would be Brooklyn to play for the Nets. Those potential trade talks went nowhere for weeks and all but died on Wednesday when the Nets signed center Brook Lopez to a four-year, $61 million free-agent contract. Lopez can’t be traded by the Nets until Jan. 15 at the earliest.

The ending of the discussions with the Nets reportedly had the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston scrambling to make a play for Howard. But Hennigan said the activity on Thursday from the Magic’s perspective was nothing out of the ordinary.

``We’ve had talks with a few teams, but nothing specific,’’ he said. ``It’s been pretty quiet today. … Not a whole lot of feedback. We’re moving on to the next day and trying to figure things out.’’

Hennigan said the Magic are still plotting their strategy and deciding if it is necessary to trade Howard, a six-time all-star and a five-time All-NBA performer. He is the franchise’s all-time leader in points, rebounds and blocked shots.

``We’re going to figure out our next steps. We’re in the process of figuring that out,’’ Hennigan said.

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