The Orlando Magic's efforts to convince superstar center Dwight Howard to stay with the team long-term will come up short, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, as the six-time All-Star has already decided to sign with the New Jersey Nets in free agency. "Howard has created an illusion with the Magic that there are factors that could cause him to sign an extension with the team," says Wojnarowski, because of his "disdain for confrontation, desire to be liked and a pragmatic belief that a trade is no longer in his best long-term interests."
Though Howard has indicated to some people he could be persuaded to stay in Orlando if it were to acquire another star prior to Thursday's NBA trade deadline, Wojnarowski says, citing Yahoo! colleague Marc Spears, "that scenario is far-fetched." Ultimately, "there’s no misunderstanding from Howard’s camp that they will eventually sign with the Nets at the July 1 start of free agency, sources said."
Alex Martins, the Magic's new CEO, continues to work with Howard to try to convince him to stay beyond this season. But Wojnarowski points out that coach Stan Van Gundy and President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith "have known Howard the longest" and "know he will leave them."
Howard has backed off his desire to be traded to New Jersey because he doesn't want the Nets to have to sacrifice trade assets, such as center Brook Lopez, in order to get him; he'd rather join a team that's more stocked with talent. Given this information, the Nets "are setting into a motion a plan to sign Howard, re-sign Deron Williams and keep restricted free agent Brook Lopez on an approximate $10 million annual salary."
"Dwight is going to [expletive] them," one source told Wojnarowski of how Howard's plan will affect the Magic.