With Dwight Howard reiterating his wish to be traded, multiple league sources predict the Orlando Magic will again step up efforts to find their All-Star center a new team.
Several of those sources told FOX Sports Ohio on Saturday they believe Howard could be traded by the end of next week.
Howard has been at the center of trade rumors for the better part of a year. He met with new Magic general manager Rob Hennigan last week, and according to reports, said he would still like to be dealt. Otherwise, Howard reportedly indicated, he will leave via free agency at the end of the 2012-13 season.
While some sources said the Magic could possibly hold on to Howard until the February trading deadline, the majority seem to think the team will again try working the phones to see what develops.
The Magic hired Jacque Vaughn as their new coach Saturday — and may want to act quickly in putting together a roster that doesn’t include the circus-like atmosphere created by the Howard saga, sources said.
That could mean again reaching out to the Los Angeles Lakers, a destination which Howard is said to be open. It could also mean possibly trying to involve a third team with the assets and salary-cap room to help facilitate a deal, such as Cleveland or Houston.
The Magic paused trade discussions this past week, sources indicated, to focus on hiring a coach and getting gauge on where Howard stood.
Of course, that didn’t necessarily remove the Magic or Howard from the headlines.
Following the news of Howard’s meeting with Magic executives, NBA commissioner David Stern accused Howard’s agent, Dan Fegan, of leaking details to the media.
“It’s very unique, especially if it’s driven by a quote source that happens to be Dwight’s agent,” Stern told USA Today of the Howard situation. “‘A source in the meeting.’ Oh, OK, who might that be?”
Stern added that he didn’t believe the source was Hennigan.
“No, I don’t, and I don’t think it’s (Magic CEO) Alex Martins either,” Stern said.
Things took on a new twist shortly thereafter — as Fegan later admitted to being the source in an email to another news outlet.
With these recent developments in mind, and a new coach in place, FOX Sports Ohio sources predicted the Magic will again press the accelerator in an attempt to move Howard.
The target mentioned most is the Lakers, who also possess an All-Star center in 24-year-old Andrew Bynum. Like Howard, Bynum’s contract expires at the end of the season. And like Howard, Bynum met with team executives this week to discuss his own situation.
Details of the Bynum-Lakers talks were kept considerably quieter, but several sources close to Bynum believe he is open to a trade. However, Bynum’s agent, David Lee, has repeatedly stated that he has yet to speak with another team about his client.
Several recent reports said one target could be the Cavaliers — with Bynum going from the Lakers to the Cavs, Howard going from the Magic to the Lakers, and the Magic receiving multiple unspecified players and draft picks in return.
Such a trade would be complicated, with the Cavs needing assurances from Bynum that he’d sign an extension. The Cavs would also likely need to be willing to take back a player with a large and lengthy contract from the Magic. On top of all that, sources said, the Magic did not want the spare parts that would have come their way.
Next week, however, that could change. According to sources, it all depends on if the Magic finally accept what they can get for Howard now, or whether they are willing to risk losing him for less, or eventually, for nothing.