Upset with Dwight Howard and his agent Dan Fegan, the Orlando Magic "have essentially told other teams [...] to let the bidding begin" in trade discussions for their superstar center, reports Chris Broussard of ESPN.com. Team management's anger stems from comments Howard made following Tuesday's overtime victory against the Miami Heat, wherein he said he wanted Orlando to "roll the dice" and keep him beyond Thursday's NBA trade deadline so the Magic could compete for a championship.
But Howard refused to discuss the possibility of staying long-term with Orlando by signing a contract extension or forgoing the Early Termination Option that will enable him to become a free agent in July. "That doesn't matter," he said, when asked.
Orlando believes Howard's comments Tuesday "were a ploy to allow the New Jersey Nets, the team Howard requested a trade to in the preseason, to keep their players and assets, thereby enabling Howard to join a stronger Nets team this summer as a free agent," according to Broussard, citing sources.
New Jersey would prefer for that scenario to play out, but it is indeed willing to trade for Howard before Thursday, because the Nets "realize that nohing is certain in free agency."
Broussard says the Los Angeles Lakers "are still interested" in trading for Howard as well, and that the Magic "would be interested" if the New York Knicks offered Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, though New York has yet to make such an offer.