Over the past couple of years, Howard has asked management to try to acquire a handful of players, including Monta Ellis and Deron Williams.
During the preseason, he asked for a trade. Then he asked that any trade be limited to a handful of teams – the New Jersey Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks — that his agent was given permission to talk to.
Now, Howard apparently again is asking the Magic to acquire a player. But not just any player – Steve Nash. As in two-time MVP Steve Nash. As in pick-and-roll genius Steve Nash. As in model of unselfishness Steve Nash.
Howard reportedly won’t opt out of his contract this summer if the Magic can acquire Nash, who becomes a free agent this summer.
From Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld: “The Orlando Magic has made offers for Nash in the past and sources close to the situation say that they’ll attempt to acquire the 16-year veteran in the next two weeks. Dwight Howard has asked the front office to pursue Nash and sources close to Howard believe he won’t exercise his early termination option if the team is able to acquire Nash and re-sign him this summer.”
The report did not say Howard would sign an extension with the Magic. Rather, he would stick around for another season – at a groovy $19.2 million – and take a longer look at what Orlando offers, with the benefit of a full training camp and an 82-game season.
Prying Nash away from the Suns won’t be easy. As we discussed in Thursday’s Trade Talk, he is committed to playing out the season with the Suns and will not ask the team for a trade, preferring to enter free agency – where he will get more attention than any 38-year-old in NBA history.
In addition, the Magic have nothing to offer the Suns in terms of cap relief. They do have desirable players in Ryan Anderson and J.J. Redick and would certainly have to surrender at least one of them in a deal for Nash. Incorporating a third team might be their only route.
But the continuing uncertainty around Howard’s future in Florida has not deterred Magic CEO Alex Martins, who still believes his superstar can be convinced to stay in Orlando.
From Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “Martins said on our radio show Thursday that he still believes the Magic can convince Howard that Orlando is the best place for him to win a championship. “We have a couple of weeks until the trade deadline, which is a critical point on the calendar to determine how we can move forward together,” Martins said of the ongoing Dwight saga. “Our conversations with Dwight continue, and I feel good about the conversations we’ve had. … I’ve said all along our reason for not trading Dwight at the beginning of the season is that time would be on our side one way or another. Time would be on our side in the fact that we could work with Dwight to address his needs and ultimately convince him to stay. Or time would work on our side in that if Dwight made the decision that he didn’t want to stay, we would have more time to talk to other teams about what trade possibilities exist.”
During the Magic’s home loss to the Thunder on Thursday, GM Otis Smith was interviewed by Craig Sager, whose flat line of questioning produced several “Nothing has changed” responses. Game analyst Steve Kerr likened Smith’s answers to a former teammate’s meeting with the media.
So today, the Fight for Dwight probably looks like this: 1. New Jersey; 2. Orlando; 3. Dallas; 4. LA Lakers; 5. Golden State.
But consider this, also from Bianchi: “My take (and this is just a theory on my part): The reason the Magic are still trying to convince Dwight to stay is because that is their only option at this point. I believe Dwight wants to become a free agent at the end of the season and therefore will veto any potential trade.”
Aside from Howard, the most prominent name being thrown around in rumors is Celtics All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo.
There was a report light on details that Boston was considering moving Rondo to Golden State for Stephen Curry, which GM Danny Ainge shot down.
From the Boston Herald’s Celtics blog: “You never say never where Ainge’s willingness to make the right trade is concerned – especially in the case of a valuable asset like Rondo – but he is downplaying that possibility now. “I anticipate him being here for a long time,” the Celtics president said when asked about Rondo’s immediate future. Though the ever-stubborn Rondo has had his moments of petulance this season, most recently with a two-game suspension for throwing the ball at referee Sean Wright, Ainge insisted that the guard’s relationship with coach Doc Rivers has actually improved. As documented in a Herald story last December, Rondo threw a bottle into a video screen during a team meeting during the playoffs last season in response to a critique by the Celtics coach.”
Later, however, the newspaper refuted Ainge’s statement with a full story that said the GM has been trying to trade Rondo for over a year but is finding few takers for the moody point guard.
From Mark Murphy of the Herald: “Indeed, Rondo’s trade value has taken a hit. The Celtics can’t hope to get back equal value for him, according to the other source. “There are irreconcilable differences between him and the team, and it’s been that way for a couple of years,” the source said, citing Rondo’s well-documented stubborn streak. “His value around the league has taken a hit. He’s not exactly the Chamber of Commerce’s man of the year. They’ve been kidding themselves for years. Doc can put an arm around him and give him a kiss and try to make it all better, but that just ain’t happening. He was cut from the national team (prior to the 2010 FIBA World Championship),” the source said. “I know the reason they gave was that he had to leave for personal reasons, but that’s baloney. He was cut. He’s a moody guy who has trouble fitting in.” According to the source, there is a dearth of interest in Rondo around the league.”
And Rondo apparently isn’t the only member of the Celtics that Ainge is trying to move. The expiring contracts of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are supposedly on the block, as is Paul Pierce, who has two years and $32 million left on his deal.
From Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News: “Team president Danny Ainge realizes that the Celtics won’t win the title and can only make the playoffs. That’s not good enough for a franchise that proudly flies 17 championship banners. With the Big Three’s window now shut, Ainge is trying to land Atlanta’s Josh Smith and other young studs, while offering up Kevin Garnett. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen can also be had, for young players and draft picks. Rajon Rondo might be leaving, too, with the Lakers and Utah seen as possible destinations.”
Finally, Mavs owner Mark Cuban met with the agent for AWOL forward Lamar Odom, whose name was linked to Nash in a report Thursday. Odom is going to play one tuneup game with the Texas Legends of the D-League before returning to the Mavs.
From Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “Odom left the Mavs on Feb. 22, the morning they played Odom’s former team, the Los Angeles Lakers. Odom went to be with his father, Joe Odom, who was ill. But late last week, Joe Odom told TMZ that he only had an upset stomach, and that his son did spend the night with him on Feb. 22. So, where is the missing Maverick? “He’s just dealing with issues and like we do with anybody else that’s had personal issues, our job is to try and help them out and not to comment beyond that,” owner Mark Cuban said. “He’s got to figure these out and that’s what we’re trying to help him do.” Cuban met with Odom and Odom’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, on Wednesday in Dallas at the W Hotel, where Odom lives. A source said Odom has backed off his desire of wanting the Mavs to buy him out of his contract so he can return to Los Angeles and play for the Clippers, and that he wants to finish the season with the Mavs.”
A buyout of Odom – now or this summer – is a more likely choice than a trade for the Mavs, who have a master plan to acquire Howard and Deron Williams but must clear their salary cap to do so.