Dwight Howard gave up his right to become a free agent after the season when he signed an agreement to waive his opt-out clause. Why would Howard yield that kind of leverage? Some say it’s because he had a deal in place with the Magic front office, ostensibly that they would replace Stan Van Gundy as coach. While that may have been a factor, it seems like Dwight signed on for another year in response to a threat.
The New York Post says Howard nearly was traded to the Nets for Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks, Mehmet Okur, and two first-round draft picks. However, they say the Magic preferred the package the Lakers were offering of Andrew Bynum, Devin Ebanks, and Steve Blake. While Howard was waffling about his future — he changed his mind several times in a three-day span — the Magic reportedly told him he would be traded to the Lakers by noon that day unless he signed away his opt-out clause.
Howard not wanting to go to the Lakers is nothing new. Even though they were reportedly on his short list of preferred trade destinations along with Dallas and New Jersey, a conversation with Kobe Bryant reportedly killed Howard’s interest in the team. We have been told by sources that Howard wants to be the focal point of a team, not a secondary option like he would be behind Kobe Bryant, and that’s a big reason why he didn’t want to go there. He also may have been worried that his legacy would be too similar to Shaq, who also left Orlando for the Lakers.
What the Post’s report is missing is an explanation of why the Magic decided not to trade Howard to the Nets if the sides were very close to a deal (so close the NBA.com store began offering Howard Nets merchandise). Maybe the only explanation is that the Magic decided that they wanted to do everything possible to keep Dwight long term, so they played the leverage card to get him for another year. Looks like their tactic worked.
H/T Pro Basketball Talk
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