It’s Now Or Never For The Lakers And Dwight Howard

Did Orlando Magic GM Rob Hennigan really have to travel 2,500 miles from Orlando to Los Angeles to hear what the rest of us could have told him without him ever leaving the comfort of his own home? Apparently he did. Dwight Howard reiterated to Hennigan in a face-to-face meeting that there’s nothing the newly-hired Hennigan can do that would persuade him to back off his request to be traded.

The only thing new to emerge, according to reports, is that Howard wants the Houston Rockets to know that if they were to trade for him, he not only would not sign an extension but he would flee to their in-state rival Dallas Mavericks next July.

**If you get a chance, Sports Illustrated’s Zach Lowe does a great job breaking down how Dallas’ road to Howard via free agency next summer isn’t as easy as it sound.

These latest reports about Dwight come on the heels of ESPN’s Chris Broussard reporting that the Magic were willing to wait  before moving Howard, in hopes of convincing him to stay.

On Tuesday night, Broussard wrote:

“The Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets both covet Howard, but each team has come away from trade discussions thinking the Magic — at least for now — are not interested in trading the six-time All-Star, according to sources.”

I’ve already outlined all the reasons I don’t think Howard would be traded to the Lakers. These latest events only swayed me slightly into believing that a Howard-to-the-Lakers trade is coming.

So how have things changed since Wednesday night? The Magic should be more convinced now than ever that it’s in their best interest to trade him before the start of the season. It seems Howard is even more upset at the Magic than he was before.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo!:

“When told that the Magic had tried to honor his desire to be moved, Howard probed Hennigan on why the GM hadn’t accepted deals that could’ve sent him to the Nets or Lakers before those teams used valuable trade assets to acquire Joe Johnson and Steve Nash respectively.”

Dwight’s got a good point. If the Magic were so insistent on getting players and picks back in a trade, why’d they allow teams to use all of their available cap space and to trade future picks before trying to get a deal done? Was this their strategy from the get-go? To deliberately stall so that they could turn to him and say they tried, even if they had no intention of really trying? I doubt it, but you never know.

Here’s what we do know:

  • Dwight wants the Magic to trade him to the Lakers.
  • Dwight doesn’t want Houston to trade for him because he’ll just leave for Dallas at season’s end.
  • If the Magic won’t trade him to Los Angeles then they he wants to be traded to Brooklyn in January.
  • If the Magic won’t trade him by the deadline then he will join the Mavericks as a free agent, leaving them with nothing.

The Rockets have plenty of picks and players they can mix-and-match to make the Magic happy. I’m guessing the hold-up stems from the Rockets and Lakers resistance to taking back all or most of the Magic’s undesirable contracts.

As far as the Lakers are concerned, I really can’t blame Mitch Kupchak for not wanting to take back a bad contract in a trade for Howard. He knows that he would not only be giving up the second-best player in the trade but also the second-best player in the league at his position. He also knows that the closer we get to the start of the season, the more Hennigan might not have a choice but to move Howard in a deal where the Lakers get away with giving up nothing but Andrew Bynum and taking back nothing but Howard.

So if the Rockets are included as the third team in a trade that would send Bynum to Houston, the onus is on the Rockets to satisfy the Magic — not necessarily on the Lakers. Furthermore, you need to realize that what the Rockets want to give up is based on what they feel Bynum is worth and not Dwight, since  he’s the player they’re getting back in the trade. The difference in packages between the two could be a draft pick, a player, and a bad contract for the Rockets to take on.

Next Page: What’s Next for Dwight, Magic?

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