Otis Smith, the Orlando Magic's President of Basketball Operations, told the Orlando Sentinel on Monday that "six to eight" teams have called to ask about trading for superstar center Dwight Howard. The 2012 NBA trade deadline looms on March 15th.
"We still have a ways to go. It's early," Smith told the Sentinel's Brian Schmitz. "Usually nothing gets done until the 15th."
Howard can become a free agent in the summer if he exercises his early termination option. Before the season began he indicated he'd like to be traded to the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, or New Jersey Nets. The Magic could retain him beyond the deadline in hopes of convincing him to re-sign, but that course of action is not without risk, as he could simply sign with either Dallas or New Jersey outright--the Lakers won't have the cap space to sign him--and leave the Magic with no compensation.
Another team likely contacting Smith regarding Howard is the Golden State Warriors, who are reportedly willing to trade Orlando their best assets for the six-time All-Star even without assurances he'd re-sign.
But Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports word around the league is that Orlando indeed plans to let the deadline pass without trading Howard, a decision "rival executives" believe to be "foolish."