Dwight Howard met with new Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan on Friday and told him he wants to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
Hennigan did not tell Howard whether he would trade him. His intentions were merely to hear the thoughts of the Magic superstar.
Howard picked up the option for the final year of his contract with Orlando on March 15. But since then, he has grown increasingly disgruntled with the organization, even telling people close to him that he feels the Magic blackmailed him into signing the “opt-in” clause.
Howard shared his feelings of being blackmailed by the Magic with the NBA Players Association last week, sources said. He — either himself or through his representatives — approached the union wondering if he might have a legal complaint against the club.
The goal of such a complaint would be to eliminate his “opt-in,” thereby allowing Howard to become a free agent this summer.
via Chris Broussard — Sources: Dwight Howard wants trade
The “blackmail” portion is particularly curious, depending on what Howard feels constitutes “blackmail,” and why he might feel the Magic organization did something he now construes as blackmail.
This immediately follows news that the Brooklyn Nets are working with the Atlanta Hawks on a potential deal for Joe Johnson, and follows continuous reports over the past twelve months that Dwight Howard wants to join Deron Williams in Brooklyn. Howard reportedly requested a trade to the Nets in December of this year, and then waived his early termination option at the trade deadline, ensuring he’d be in an Orlando uniform for another year. Or so it seemed.
Rob Hennigan, new Magic GM, is not bound to trading Dwight Howard to his destination of choosing, and will likely want to play this — which will be his first major move (or non-move) as well as possible. Denver Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri had a similarly difficult situation with Carmelo Anthony, and was able to parlay that into multiple draft picks and assets from the New York Knicks. Unfortunately, Brooklyn does not have similar trade value at this point; outside of Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks, future draft picks, and loads of cap space, the Nets are relatively short in the assets department.
Howard has just one year remaining on his contract, which does limit the teams that will take him on without a long-term guarantee. However, if a team such as, say, Houston is willing to trade for him as a one-year rental, they’re much better equipped to make that kind of deal, and it would be much more well-received in Orlando.
It’s easy to poke fun at Dwight Howard for his flip-floppyness — I have, on numerous occasions — but it’s also important to remember that Howard’s making an enormous decision about his future, and outside of the inexplicable trade deadline fiasco, has remained anonymously steadfast in his trade request. He wants to go to the Brooklyn Nets, and if not for ownership reportedly shooting down a trade in December, this mess may never have happened.
Besides the wild & wacky This all also hinges on one major, underreported factor — Howard’s achy back, which he underwent surgery for during the playoffs this season.
Free agency begins in approximately one hour.