Denton: Latest on NBA Trade Rumors

By John Denton
March 13, 2012

ORLANDO – The decision of whether Dwight Howard’s future is in Orlando or elsewhere still hangs in the balance and will likely be there until Thursday’s 3 p.m. NBA trade deadline, Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins said on Tuesday.

Martins said Howard has yet to make a declaration of whether he prefers to stay with the Magic or look elsewhere when he can become an unrestricted free agent in July.

Unwilling to take a chance on losing Howard without compensation, the Magic have been fielding trade offers from several teams. Martins said there is no shortage of teams of teams lining up to trade for Howard either with a long-term commitment or as a ``rental’’ for the final two months of the season.

``If you are asking me whether we’ve decided to hang onto him or trade him before Thursday at 3, we haven’t made that decision yet. No, he hasn’t told us (of his decision) yet,’’ Martins said. ``We will be ready to make whatever decision we have to make. We’ll be ready. We will be prepared in the proper time to make the decision that we have to make by the trade deadline.’’

The Magic, who have made several attempts at upgrading their roster with trades, have discussed various options with Howard. One such move would be Howard agreeing not to opt out of the final year of his contract in July, giving the franchise potentially more time to restructure the roster around the six-time all-star center. Of course, Howard could also sign a long-term extension, but that isn’t likely to happen anytime soon.

Howard has been clearly torn with the magnitude of the decision, admitting recently that he’s had a lot of sleepless nights and that no one would understand what he is going through. Martins said gets the indication that Howard has struggled with the decision over the past few months.

``Our conversations are not conversations that say, `I want to stay today’ and `I want to go tomorrow,’’’ Martins said. ``There has been a lot of things pulling at him, but he’s never said in the course of the last couple of weeks that he wants to stay or that he wants to go.’’

Martins said the Magic will have no shortage of options should the team decide that it must trade Howard. Two of the teams on Howard’s original trade list – the New Jersey Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers – are very much in play for Howard. As many as three other teams could also be willing to trade for Howard even though Howard likely wouldn’t resign there.

``There have been plenty of teams that have contacted us. I don’t think we have everyone’s final deal yet. There are still some questions to be answered,’’ Martins said. ``But there are plenty of teams contacting us about taking him without any assurances of him being with them next year.’’

Martins also shot down a report that the Magic would allow Howard to have a major say in who the head coach and GM would be if he would stay in Orlando. Both head coach Stan Van Gundy and President of Basketball Operations/GM Otis Smith said on Tuesday that weren’t concerned about losing their jobs. Martins said it was a non-issue because the franchise would never give such power to a player.

``Nobody makes those decisions (about the fate of the head coach or the GM) other than the DeVos family,’’ Martins stressed. ``I gave Dwight my word that we’d never talk about specifics of our conversations, but I will tell you when it comes to making that kind of decision the DeVos family are the only ones who will make decisions about coaches and GMs. We’ll make recommendations, but they are the only ones and nobody else.’’

Similarly, Martins said the decision of whether or not Howard will be traded before Thursday will come from him and Smith and will be presented to the DeVos family. Such a decision likely won’t come until Thursday afternoon.

``The ultimate decision will lie with the DeVoses,’’ he said. ``We’ll make the recommendation, but the ultimate decision will lie with ownership. Based on our conversations, we’re very much on the same page.’’

John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com

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