HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — As if things couldn’t get any crazier for Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic this year, the start of free agency brought the latest and most bizarre twist to their saga (and that’s saying a lot when you consider where this story has been since December).
According to multiple reports, Howard has asked the Magic for a trade to Brooklyn, the second time he’s asked to be traded since training camp. And per ESPN The Magazine‘s Chris Broussard, that’s just a part of an increasingly outrageous rift between Howard and the Magic:
Dwight Howard met with new Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan on Friday and told him he wants to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
Howard and Hennigan sat down face to face in Los Angeles, meeting for the first time since Hennigan became Orlando’s GM nearly two weeks ago.
Hennigan was noncommital when Howard told him he wants to be traded to Brooklyn, sources said.
Hennigan did not tell Howard whether he would trade him. His intentions were merely to hear the thoughts of the Magic superstar.
Howard picked up the option for the final year of his contract with Orlando on March 15. But since then, he has grown increasingly disgruntled with the organization, even telling people close to him that he feels the Magic blackmailed him into signing the “opt-in” clause.
Howard shared his feelings of being blackmailed by the Magic with the NBA Players Association last week, sources said. He — either himself or through his representatives — approached the union wondering if he might have a legal complaint against the club.
The goal of such a complaint would be to eliminate his “opt-in,” thereby allowing Howard to become a free agent this summer.
Sources said the union has no plans to pursue any such legal action against the Magic.
The trade request is bad enough. But the blackmail charge is just downright foolish, unless there was some backroom dealing that hasn’t yet come to light.
The fact that ‘sources” say the union is not interested in pursuing that story line would suggest that the claim is as ridiculous as it sounds. Howard knew exactly what he was signing at the trade deadline when he firestorm from his previous trade request and dust-up with former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy (video above) was the talk of the league.
A divorce between Howard and the Magic is almost inevitable at this point, never mind that he is under contract for another year. The Magic cannot afford much more of this embarrassment at the hands of their franchise player.
If a divorce is what Howard wants, one source confirmed to us late Saturday night, that’s exactly what he might get. But there’s no guarantee it will be to the Nets, who according to Yahoo! Sports are also discussing a possible trade for Hawks All-Star guard Joe Johnson.
That said, the Magic have don’t have any obligation on them to move Howard now, next week or any time before the end of the 2012-13 season.
Howard had the power in this situation on March 15, before he signed that document waiving the early termination option on his contract and gave back control of this situation to the Magic.
All he can do now is continue to demand that trade request that he’s actually never admitted to demanding and wait until the Magic do something.
In the meantime, he’ll continue to draw the ire of observers who have grown tired of a soap opera that seems to play out the exact same episode day after day.
TNT’s Charles Barkley vented his own frustrations Saturday before playing in Dirk Nowitzki‘s Heroes Celebrity baseball game in Frisco, Texas, per ESPNDallas.com:
“Dwight needs to make a decision because I’m sick of hearing about it every year where he’s going to go and I told him he needs to grow up and make a decision,” Barkley said … “I don’t want to hear this stuff ever year coming up on the trade deadline. Make a decision and live with it.”