Howard, GM haven’t talked since request
Whether the Orlando Magic and Dwight Howard wind up parting ways remains to be seen, and Howard said Sunday that he is experiencing a new silence with Magic general manager Otis Smith.
Howard made a formal request to the Magic last week to be traded. While Howard participated in his third training camp practice Sunday, he said he hasn’t spoken with Smith about where the progress of his request stands.
”He hasn’t said anything to me since then,” Howard said.
Asked if it had been complete silence, he again responded: ”He hasn’t said anything to me.”
Howard acknowledged for the first time on Saturday that he had asked for the Magic — the only team he’s played for in seven NBA seasons — to trade him. Smith previously granted New Jersey, Dallas and the Los Angeles Lakers permission to talk to Howard’s agent, Dan Fegan, about possible deals.
The All-Star center is eligible to opt out of his current contract in July 2012.
On Sunday, Howard reiterated a point he made a day earlier, saying he would prefer a situation with the Magic that he said Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki enjoys with the Mavericks: being consulted on personnel moves.
”It’s simple, the best player on the team and the GM have a great relationship,” Howard said. ”If you go down the line of teams, every GM has a pretty good relationship with not just the best player, but all the players. If you don’t have a good relationship with the guys you work with, how are you guys gonna get better?
”If there was a good relationship then I wouldn’t tell you guys that we haven’t talked. We should still talk, regardless. No matter what goes on. I’ve been here for seven years and no matter what happens we still should be able to talk.”
A text message to Smith was not immediately returned.
Smith told the Orlando Sentinel on Sunday that the team hasn’t completely ignored Howard’s input. Howard has previously mentioned players like New Orleans’ Chris Paul and New Jersey’s Deron Williams as talent he’d like to play with. Howard said those suggestions weren’t offered just this offseason, but over the past few years.
”We looked at some,” Smith told the newspaper. ”Some we have. Some we don’t. So I’m not necessarily saying that he isn’t accurate. I think that there was a list. Some of them are duplicate talent, which is something you can’t do all the time. Some, quite frankly, are on your roster.
”. . . When it’s your best player, you really do consult your best player on everything. You do. So you consult your best player on free agency. You consult your best players on trades. And that’s not uncommon. And I have done that.”
Smith was adamant in reiterating Saturday that the remaining free agency period before the start of the season would not just be focused on trying to trade Howard — and that keeping him, in fact, was still a hope.
”He’s on our team . . . So we will talk (to Howard) almost every day,” Smith said. ”It needs to be known that our objective is still the same, regardless of what he requests — the objective is still to keep him as a member of the Orlando Magic basketball team . . . He requested (the trade) and we’re moving forward from there.”
A trade that will send forward Brandon Bass to Boston in exchange for Glen Davis is still being finalized, as is a separate deal for Von Wafer. Both are expected to be completed sometime Monday.
Smith said they are also close to signing unrestricted free agent Jason Richardson and want to add more pieces.
He also said the decision to use the new amnesty provision to shed the $62 million remaining on Gilbert Arenas’ contract was ”in the best interest” of the team moving forward and would give it more flexibility with both the salary and luxury caps.
He said adding other pieces remains possible.
”It gives us the ability to move freely,” Smith said. ”To pick up players as we have. To move players as we have … I don’t think it ever stops. I think you’re always looking and improving your roster.”
Howard said until something changes he will keep showing up and work hard in a Magic uniform.
”My job is to be professional,” Howard said. ”I’m not gonna go out there and give half of an effort. Because I would not do that to myself. I wouldn’t do that to my teammates and I wouldn’t do that to this organization. That’s all I’m saying. No matter what jersey or whoever I’m with.
”If I’m here with the Magic for the whole year, the next five years, I’m gonna continue to give everything I got every night.”