There were rumors even before July 8, circling around the NBA like vultures at a kill. On that fateful day in the summer of 2010 when LeBron James announced he would be taking his talents to South Beach to team up with two other all-world stars, the conspiracy theories became full-on elephants. It was all there, out in the open. These guys decided on this months ago, years even, seemingly everyone thought. Now in the pursuit of the NBA’s next great available superstar, it appears the outcome may again be decided prematurely. While this time there are no conspiracy reports, there are sources saying Dwight Howard has already decided he will end up with the New Jersey Nets, one way or another.
With Orlando hustling to do ANYTHING they can to keep their franchise player and not lose him the way they once lost the original Superman in the summer of 1996, it sounds like it might not even matter. As was reported yesterday, the Magic are hot in pursuit of Monta Ellis. More star power. More wins. Hopefully that means an extension. Besides the fact that Golden State will never trade their best player unless it means getting the best center in the world in return, Howard doesn’t seem to care about Monta Ellis.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports writes:
For everything Dwight Howard has told the Orlando Magic management about bringing him a stronger supporting cast, about the possibility that he could still sign an extension, it has turned into a complete ruse â€“ a misdirection play on his eventual signing with the Brooklyn-bound New Jersey Nets, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
With the combination of Howard’s disdain for confrontation, desire to be liked and a pragmatic belief that a trade is no longer in his best long-term interests, Howard has created an illusion with the Magic that there are factors that could cause him to sign an extension with the team.
“Dwight’s gone, and [Magic CEO] Alex Martins is the only person who doesn’t believe that,” a league source with knowledge of Howard’s intentions told Yahoo! Sports.
So what’s the reasoning behind Dwight keeping mum on his future plans? Easy. If Orlando finds out he’s a goner, they will surely trade him and get $.25 on the dollar. If it’s New Jersey, that likely means Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks, perhaps another young player or two and undoubtedly a first rounder or more. Howard would find himself stuck on a team that’ll miss the playoffs this year and then come into training camp next season with Deron Williams (hopefully) and Howard, and then a bunch of league castoffs.
Instead, as Yahoo! Sports writes, if he can prolong the inevitable and make it appear like Orlando has a shot at bringing him back, Howard will end up in the playoffs this spring before leaving for a Nets team that would suddenly look like a legit Eastern contender.
Either way it gets fishy. The Nets are so confident they can land Howard in the summer that they could also reject any trade offer Orlando sends their way before Thursday’s deadline. And without assurances from Howard on a long-term extension, the amount of deadline suitors around the rest of the league is slim.
Wojnarowski also writes:
Magic general manager Otis Smith and coach Stan Van Gundy have known Howard the longest. They know he will leave them and they want a deal done prior to Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline. The gulf between Martins and his basketball operations staff has become vast, full of mistrust and animosity. “Otis and Stan want the circus to end,” one source close to them said. “They want a deal.”
Martins has improved the franchise’s relationship with Howard, multiple sources told Yahoo! Sports. But as one source talking to Martins and Howard said: “That’s great, but [Dwight's] still going to leave.”
The decision now sits in the Magic’s front office. They’re jumping off a skyscraper either way. But on which side is there a parachute?
What should the Magic do?
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