By John Denton
December 9, 2011

ORLANDO – CEO Alex Martins denied reports that the Orlando Magic were looking into filing tampering charges with the NBA for alleged contact by other teams with superstar center Dwight Howard.

But Martins did say that the Magic planned to investigate ESPN reports that multiple NBA teams met with Howard Thursday night in Miami about his future with the Magic. At this time, Martins said there is no concrete evidence to prove that tampering occurred.

``There aren’t any tampering charges. Dwight is under contract with us and our rules in the league are very explicit about when a player is under contract with a team other teams aren’t allowed to contact that player or a representative about them,’’ said Martins, who was promoted from team president to CEO earlier in the week. ``If that’s been voided in any way we’ll deal with it to the fullest extent that the NBA’s Constitution allows. But at this stage there aren’t any tampering charges.’’

If a team is determined to have tampered with a player under contract they would be at the mercy of NBA Commissioner David Stern. Stern has taken such matters in the past very seriously and he would likely impose serious penalties. Such punishment could include fines, loss of draft picks or denying the team the right to sign the player in the future.

``I’ve seen reports, but I have no idea if (Howard) met with them or not,’’ Martins said. ``We’ll take a look into that. But at this stage it’s just a report.’’

Martins reiterated his desire to keep Howard in Orlando long term. Martins said that the Magic’s management team has spoken to the only player in history to win the Defensive Player of the Year award three consecutive seasons repeatedly this week, and he’s said that he’s committed to Orlando.

``Everything that we’ve heard from Dwight this week wouldn’t indicate (that he wants to leave). He’s told us that he loves Orlando and that he wants to be here,’’ Martins said. ``Those conversations continue. We’re not going to talk about the specifics and all of the exchanges, but everything we’ve heard is that he loves it here and wants to be here. We’ll take him at his word.’’

Martins said the Magic’s track record of success – the third most playoff wins in the NBA over the past four seasons – and their willingness to add major pieces – signing Rashard Lewis, Brandon Bass and trading for Vince Carter, Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas – proves they will do whatever necessary to retain the game’s best center.

``I’ll tell Dwight the same thing that I’ve said all week since we’ve been able to talk to him. That is that first and foremost we want him to resign here,’’ Martins said. ``We’re going to continue to give him every resource and every asset that he needs and we need to be successful. We’ve proven we’ll do that over the last four years in particular. Our ownership has continued to invest in putting other players around him. The only thing that we haven’t been successful at is finishing that last step in winning the title.’’

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

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