HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — With all of the changes in to the script, it’s getting harder and harder to keep up with the details of the Dwight Howard trade saga as we get closer to next week’s trade deadline.
Howard gave the Magic a list of three teams — the Nets, Lakers and Mavericks — on his preferred list, were they to honor his training camp request and trade him this season.
Now comes word, via Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel, that the Magic have a list of “six to eight” teams they are talking to about Howard:
“I’d say everybody in the league has called us. …but this late, it’s six to eight,” [Magic GM Otis] Smith said before the Magic faced the Toronto Raptors on Monday night.
Smith said there was “nothing new to report” about Howard’s situation.
With the trade deadline next [Thursday], Smith wouldn’t get into any specifics about Howard.
“We still have a ways to go. It’s early,” he said. “Usually nothing gets done until the 15th.”
Howard has been talking with Magic CEO Alex Martins, who remains hopeful that the franchise can convince their superstar center to stay.
Howard has an early-termination option in his contract and can become a free agent after the season. He told the Magic he preferred to be dealt to the New Jersey Nets, Dallas Mavericks or Los Angeles Lakers.
The Magic said when Howard presented his trade-request list early in training camp in December that they seek compensation if Howard had made up his mind to leave Orlando.
Smith said he expects some trade activity around the league at the deadline.
This notion that Howard could be traded to a team not on his preferred list means some team is willing to rent Howard’s services. A “Rent-A-Dwight” situation, if you will.
This adds all sorts of intrigue to what could go on between now and next Thursday’s deadline.
Smith did say he’s heard from every team in the league. And what GM worth his seats in a luxury suite wouldn’t at least make that call (presumably to gauge how much of their franchise they’d have to give up to get the best big man in basketball)?
Subtract the prospect of Howard sticking around beyond this season and every team in the league should be calling to at least get an understanding of what it might take to rent Howard’s services for a few months. (We usually don’t advocate short-term rentals of superstars, but we’ll make an exception for Howard.) Playoff teams obviously would have much more incentive, as Howard could push them over the top if he’s wearing their uniform.
It’s a trickier proposition for lottery-bound teams. You don’t need Howard’s arrival messing with your chances at snagging the top prize in the June Draft, which has another potentially superstar big man (Kentucky’s shot-swatting phenom Anthony Davis) atop most draft boards. Howard’s ticket-selling power for a couple of months might not be worth the risk of messing with the chances of getting Davis or any of the other top prospects in the Draft.
For everyone else, though, it should be a free-for-all. Smith’s phone should be ringing off the hook!