The dust is settling in Amway Center where Rob Hennigan and the Magic officially put an end to trade discussions with the Nets for the time being and turned their focuse squarely on the head coaching search. There have been very few things that are clear in this whole Dwight Howard saga, but let’s try and clear a few things up:
1) Dwight Howard will find it tough to be a Net.
While the dealings between the Magic and the Nets are dead with the Nets signing Brook Lopez to a four-year, $60 million maximum deal. This signing effectively wraps up the centerpiece of the Nets offer to the Magic until January 15. There is no indication that Orlando is going to hold onto Dwight Howard that long.
Howard really limited Orlando’s options in the open trading market by effectively saying he would only sign a long-term extension with Brooklyn. This made several teams hesitant to give up the kind of assets Orlando was looking for to reboot the team. In the end, there were no deals that were right for the franchise and both the Nets and the Magic moved on.
2) Dwight Howard still wants to be traded.
Even though Brooklyn is off the table, Ric Bucher of ESPN.com reports Howard still wants to be traded. Bucher reports Hennigan and Magic CEO Alex Martins called Howard to make a plea for him to consider staying in Orlando and fixing some of the broken bridges between he and the franchise. Hennigan reportedly asked that Howard give him a chance since he was not part of the old regime that caused so many problems.
Howard reportedly told him that Martins had already tried that line with him in March. It appears there was no dice on that front and Howard wants out of Orlando.
Even with this try, the Magic do not seem willing to wait long for Howard either. While the franchise is turning its focus onto its head coaching search, it will continue to listen to offers for Howard. While the Nets were bowing out, the Magic were listening to several trade scenarios with the Rockets, with the Houston Chronicle reporting things were “close.”
Close can mean anything though.
There is no secret that the Rockets want to get Dwight Howard even if it means renting him for a season and restarting. Houston is reportedly considering amnestying Luis Scola which would make it easier for Houston to trade expiring contract Kevin Martin along with two first round picks and perhaps one of their recent draft picks, like Jeremy Lamb, to Orlando. If the Magic finally convince Fran Vazquez to come to the NBA from Spain, this deal might gain even more legs.
It is all discussion now.
While Hennigan said he would turn his focus toward the Magic’s coaching search, the Magic are not done listening to proposals for Howard trades.
3) But Orlando may still be an option … because Howard has to re-weigh his future.
Before Bucher’s report that Howard told Hennigan he would still like to be traded, there were several reports out that Orlando may become an option once again for Howard’s long-term future. Two specific reports have to catch observer’s eyes.
First, Tuesday during the NBATV broadcast of the Magic’s Summer League game against Pistons, Jarrod Rudolph of RealGM suggested Orlando could become an option again as Howard plans his next move with the Nets off the table.
John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com then was on 740 AM in Orlando and said he knows Dwight still loves Orlando and that there is always a chance for a reconciliation.
Both of these reports came out before Bucher made his report effectively ending this fantasy (perhaps) from Magic fans. Then again, stranger things have happened in the “Dwightmare” saga.
What is clear from Bucher’s report and the Magic’s unwillingness to take a bad deal from the Nets to placate their superstar is that the Magic seem fine with the option of keeping Howard for the time being.
Does that mean they are willing to keep him into training camp? That answer seems to be maybe. But only, it seems, if there is a chance that they can re-sign him. At this point, it still feels like Howard wants out as the bridge is burned severing the connection between Howard and the only team he has played for.
What is clear is that with Brooklyn effectively off the table, Dwight Howard has to consider all his options for his free agency and moving forward. If teams are hesitant to deal for Howard without the guarantee of an extension, it is going to be tough for the Magic to move him. Further, Howard and his agent, Dan Fegan, have to know that there is an extra $20 million and an extra year in the contract for re-signing whatever team he plays for at the end of the year.
If he is really dead set against becoming a Laker, a widely reported rumor, Orlando might be the only option left for him if that money is important.
It is a long shot, but don’t bury the idea quite yet.
4) Rob Hennigan is not messing around.
If you are a 30-year-old general manager thrown into the fire to make a franchise-defining move in your first month on the job, you might be quick to pull the trigger.
Rob Hennigan is not that kind of person.
He came into Orlando preaching a process that would bring sustainable success to the franchise. He wanted to build an ethos and an identity about his team. Hennigan could have easily panicked and left that line, taking the first deal he could.
Hennigan though is about building his team through his process. And he was not about to take a bad deal just to be rid of a nuisance.
Hennigan is playing hard ball with Dwight Howard and knows that a better offer for his team will come across his desk. With the way scouts are raving about his two draft picks — Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O’Quinn — at the AirTran Orlando Pro Summer League, Hennigan might be getting a “does he know something we don’t” look at the next GM’s meeting.
His career with Orlando, either way, is likely tied to this move. No sense in screwing it up.