Howard, Orlando On Different Wavelengths

Dwight Howard will not be a member of the Orlando Magic past the 2013 season. That ship sailed a long time ago and is not coming back to port, despite Rob Hennigan’s meeting with Howard to try and rebuild any kind of relationship with Howard. Howard wants out and all the factors that were in play before still remain.

So, Rob Hennigan and the Magic are in a stalemate with Dwight Howard. Hennigan informed Dwight Howard during their meeting that the Magic had not received any acceptable offers and that they would continue to try and trade him.

It seems more and more likely as the days pass that Howard may still be on the roster when the season starts and might not get moved until December or, even, the trade deadline. It was not clear from the reports from the meeting what Howard would do if he is still on the Magic when the season opens. The suggestions from several reports is that he may just sit out (which he could only do with the Magic’s permission… and they may grant it to be rid of the headache and the cloud over the franchise).

From reports coming out of the meeting it became increasingly clear that the Magic and Dwight Howard have two different views of their future right now.

Jarrod Rudolph of RealGM reported Hennigan hoped to persuade Dwight to back off his trade demand and give the Magic some time to build a championship team again. This expectation may have led Howard to believe that Hennigan was going to lay out a concrete plan that would return the Magic to championship contention immediately.

That is a much trickier process because of all the uncertainty surrounding Howard’s future and because of the lack of assets Orlando has to offer other teams. Orlando is on the downslope and both Hennigan and Howard know it.

It is how they want to move forward that the two diverge.

Howard believed Hennigan was coming to sell him on how the Magic would get back to the top. Hennigan had much longer-term plans on his mind, reportedly hoping to build a relationship with Howard and rebuild trust. At an earlier point, that might have been fine but Howard has run out of patience. He wants to win now and has the leverage to demand his team do so or to leave.

Howard right now is not interested in Hennigan’s long-term vision for the franchise or his process or anything else. He knows how close he was to a title in 2009 and 2010 and knows he is entering his prime playing years. It is time for Howard to strike while the iron is hot.

Both sides appear to recognize that Orlando is going in a different direction than the win-now mode it was in for the last four years. Howard wants to remain in that win-now mode and it is clear Orlando cannot make the moves to appease that.

Rudolph reported Howard told Hennigan that there are three options for Orlando — a trade to Los Angeles before the season begins, a trade to Brooklyn in January or a loss of a free agent Howard in July (where Dallas becomes his most likely landing spot).

Things are not that simple, though.

Howard may not quite understand it as he still seems to be a superstar expecting the team to cater to him but Hennigan has been absolutely clear that Orlando will only do a deal that serves the franchise. If no deal comes along, they may very well let Howard walk as a free agent. While Howard may feel Orlando passed on acceptable deals, Hennigan does not. And this is ultimately Hennigan’s decision.

What the meeting Wednesday confirmed was what many understood for a while. Howard has made his decision and wants out of Orlando. What needs to change from Howard, is his (at least public) insistence on landing in one of two places. That is keeping the Magic from making the deal they want for him.

A Denver-like haul is probably not in the cards. But that is the kind of return Hennigan is seeking for Howard, who is still one of the top five players in the league. The Magic’s patience in waiting out the right deal is frustrating Howard. But it is safe to say Orlando is trying to make a trade. The franchise just wants to make the right one.

Howard’s short-term view on things and Hennigan’s long-term view are certainly butting heads. While the relationship seems amicable, it is pretty clear to sense the frustration from Howard’s camp that Howard has not been moved.

About the Author

Phil Rossman-Reich Philip Rossman-Reich is a life-long Magic fan and a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. He is currently balancing law school and blogging for Orlando Magic Daily, Crossover Chronicles and Lake The Posts. You can read the latest on Magic news, rumors and analysis over at OrlandoMagicDaily.com.

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