Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
The Orlando Magic "haven't given any indication" they plan to trade All-Star center Dwight Howard, who can become a free agent in the summer and requested a trade prior to the season, reports Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD, but if they do, sources "close" to Howard believe a team willing to "rent" the three-time Defensive Player of the Year will acquire him. According to Kennedy, those teams may include the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets.
Howard's preference is to be traded to the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, or New Jersey Nets, and during training camp the Magic granted Dan Fegan, Howard's agent, permission to discuss trades with those teams. New Jersey appears to be the heavy favorite to land Howard in free agency, especially with word breaking Thursday morning that Howard will strongly consider his off-the-court business opportunities when deciding where to continue his career.
But a club willing to acquire the four-time All-NBA first-teamer without assurances that he'd stay beyond the balance of the 2011/12 season could potentially offer more via trade, which would explain Orlando's willingness to deal with those teams.
Bill Ingram, Kennedy's Houston-based HOOPSWORLD colleague, says the Rockets believe Hall-of-Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon could persuade Howard to "stay" in Houston "long term." Howard and Olajuwon have trained together at Olajuwon's Houston home in the past.
Meanwhile, it's no secret that the Warriors would be willing to cash in their best trade chips for a chance to acquire Howard. Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com reported in February the Warriors may be willing to offer a package built around veteran scoring guard Monta Ellis and rookie swingman Klay Thompson to Orlando for Howard.
The 2012 NBA trade deadline is March 15th at 3 PM Eastern.