Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins continues to speak with Dwight Howard and his representatives, hoping to convince the three-time Defensive Player of the Year that his future lies in Orlando, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. "We've had good conversations with him and some of his people," Martins told Wojnarowski. "That gives me hope."
According to the Yahoo! scribe, league sources believe Martins is responsible in part for vetoing a trade of Howard the Magic would have made with the New Jersey Nets in January.
And though the Magic still believe there is a chance they can talk Howard out of leaving for the Nets, Dallas Mavericks, or Los Angeles Lakers--the three teams to which he requested a trade before the season began--there are several obstacles remaining for the team to clear. Among them is the belief around the league, Wojnarowski says, that "no one in the organization wants to tell the Magic's 85-year-old owner, Rich DeVos, that they recommend trading [Howard]." Another is the fact that Howard "disdains confrontation" because "he doesn't want to be unpopular."
Howard also is conflicted about his future; one source Wojnarowski cites says Howard's representatives want "to pull him out of [Orlando], but I'm not so sure that's where his heart is."
Because the Magic are telling rival teams not to call them with a trade offer unless it's for a complementary player who can serve as Howard's sidekick, some "won't bother getting involved in talks with them," Wojnarowski says.
New Jersey appears to be the most likely destination for Howard, either via free agency or trade, because "the Nets are still Howard's desired destination." However, the Magic and the Nets "haven't had a substantive conversation" for a while.
"We have to use as much time as we can before making a final decision," Martins told Wojnarowski, and time is certainly running out. The NBA trade deadline is March 15th. If Orlando doesn't trade Howard before then, it will enter the offseason facing the possibility he will sign elsewhere as a free agent.