It got even stranger when Howard sensed that Bob Vander Weide may have been intoxicated when he made the call last week. Vander Weide, who is also the son-in-law of the Magic’s owner, stepped down as CEO this week.
But Vander Weide wanted to make sure that no one confused his withdrawal from running the franchise as having anything to do with the call in which he reiterated the team’s desire to hold on to the All-Star center. Howard can become a free agent next summer and right now the team is listening to trade offers for the franchise player.
Vander Weide admitted to having two to three glasses of wine at a social event prior to placing the call to Howard.
"We need to be clear on this, that phone conversation has not changed my relationship with Dwight," Vander Weide said. "We like each other; we even love each other as people. He's always reached out to me. That phone call has not changed his feeling about this organization. And third, and maybe not as important, that phone conversation has nothing to do with us being here today."
In the meantime, Magic general manager Otis Smith said the team wants to keep Howard in Orlando but he also seemed willing to listen to offers if it comes down to that. There has been speculation Howard could be traded to Chicago or New Jersey and the latest rumor is that the Los Angeles Lakers may try to acquire both point guard Chris Paul and Howard in a trade to join perennial All-Star Kobe Bryant.
"At the end of the day our objective is to win a title and protect this franchise," Smith said in the Associated Press story. "We're going to do whatever we have to do in order to do that. Our objective is to keep [Howard] in a uniform, however, if that's not the case then we'll move in another direction. But our objective right now is to keep him in uniform."
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(Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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