Over the weekend Dwight Howard demanded a trade out of Orlando, citing the direction of the franchise and a strained relationship with general manager Otis Smith.
Then Monday comes and Howard sounds like a man who wants to be in Orlando for a long time.
"I love this city, there is no place I'd rather be but Orlando," Howard told ESPN.com. "I just want to make sure we have the right things here so we can win a championship. I'm all about change. If you're willing to change and you're willing to do what it takes to win then, you know, you got me."
But the question Howard has to ask is, what can the Magic do to change? For a while there, a perfect storm brought the Magic a ton of young talent at once — think Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Türkoğlu — with Howard as the centerpiece. But once many of those players were either at or near the point of becoming free agents, they left for more money or Smith made head-scratching trades in order to not take a total loss.
Howard can become a free agent in the summer of 2012 and sign wherever he wants. He can also get his future started now with a franchise on the uptick if a trade can be made.
The prevailing thought for months was that the Magic would be willing to deal Howard because it appeared he would sign with a larger-market team like the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, New Jersey Nets or Chicago Bulls next summer when he’s an unrestricted free agent.
So as not to lose out altogether, the Magic have given Howard’s agent free rein to work out deals with Dallas, Los Angeles and New Jersey. Nothing has been finalized but the Lakers are said to be willing to send Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol to Orlando for the talented big man. New Jersey is offering Brook Lopez and a first round draft pick that originally belonged to slumping Houston.
But in a perfect world the Magic would love to hold onto their superstar for once, though that seems far-fetched given the market size.
"I'm an optimist," said Orlando’s new CEO Alexis Martins. "I am confident that we can work with Dwight and convince him to stay here long-term."
Contact Terrance Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Terranceharris.
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