Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld and Jarrod Rudolph of Real GM report the Magic have informed Dwight Howard that they are putting trade talks on hold to focus on their head coaching search. This came hot on the heels of Ric Bucher of ESPN.com reporting, and Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel confirming, that final trade talks between the Magic and the Nets fell apart.
Shortly after these reports began surfacing, Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said in a previously scheduled press conference that these reports were inaccurate and that the Magic would continue trade discussions involving Howard. Hennigan said he has been in continuous contact with Howard and his camp throughout this process.
Brooklyn had reportedly put a deadline on getting a Dwight Howard deal done for the end of business today with general manager Billy King wanting to put focus on securing Brook Lopez for the long term. King was in Los Angeles today negotiating with Lopez and his agent.
It is pretty clear the dealings with the Nets involving Howard are dead for now.
It is believed the Nets are close to agreeing on a five-year maximum deal with the 7-footer from Stanford, hoping that they can use Lopez again in trade discussions in January when Lopez would be eligible to be traded or, at the very least, hoping to secure a decently strong post presence for their new core of star players. The Bobcats and Trail Blazers, who lost out on Roy Hibbert, reportedly had max deals ready to offer Lopez.
Orlando was weighing several offers today, but Brooklyn was clearly always the favorite as it is the only place Howard would guarantee signing a long-term extension. That firm declaration from Howard’s camp made it difficult for the Magic to secure the young players, draft picks and cap flexibility they wanted in a Howard deal from other teams. Orlando has several bad contracts the team wants to get rid of as wel to clear the decks some.
The franchise’s focus for the next while will turn to finding a new head coach. Indiana assistant Brian Shaw, Golden State assistant Michael Malone and Utah assistant Jeff Hornacek have all reportedly interviewed for the job already. Orlando is also expected to interview Phoenix director of player development Lindsey Hunter and San Antonio assistant Jacque Vaughn. Lakers assistant Quinn Snyder already bowed out of the race, taking a job with CSKA Moscow.
Once a new coach is found, it is unclear what the Magic will do. Quite clearly, their future is up in the air and the Magic have not been able to focus on free agency with all the uncertainty on the roster. Likely, once a coach is found, Orlando will look into trading Dwight Howard again.
Pulling him temporarily off the market even for a short while might mean Howard will have to play a few more games (at least nominally) in a Magic uniform.
As teams fill up their cap space and acquire players, it will become more difficult for them to offer the kind of players the Magic want. Orlando may have to wait for the ground to become firmer when recently acquired players become eligible for trades on December 15.
Brooklyn though will likely be the focus once the trade market opens up. That could lead to more complications.
Lopez, as a re-signed restricted free agent, cannot be traded until January 15 and has a one-year veto on where he is sent. If Lopez really wants to be in Brooklyn and really does not want to go to a rebuilding Orlando team (max contract or not), he can tell Brooklyn no. The Magic, who are looking to clear some cap space and bad contracts of their own, likely do not want to commit to five years with Lopez either.
Orlando is in a rock and a hard place when it comes to Dwight Howard.
For now, the franchise will make Howard wait.