Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard said he has informed the team that he would like to stay for the remainder of the season.
Howard, who is in the middle of wide-ranging trade conjecture, said he has talked with Magic owner Rich DeVos and other front-office executives about his desire to stay for the last 2 weeks. Baseball scores
But Howard wouldn’t commit to signing a long term agreement extension and may back out of his contract to get into free agency in the summer. Basketball scores
“We’ve been talking, like I said, for a while,” Howard said after leading the Magic to a 104-98 overtime home victory against the Miami Heat. “I told them I would like to finish this season out and give our team, give our fans some wish for the future. But I believe they have to shake the dice. It may be tough, but I feel we have got a superb opportunity. But they’ve got to roll it.”
It’s a gamble the Magic would possibly not be happy to take, considering the organization lost Shaquille O’Neal in free agency in 1996 with no getting any pay in exchange. Orlando has re-engaged one or two teams in serious trade talks recently, with the New Jersey Nets and the L.A Lakers remaining among the top potential partners in an agreement.
Previous to Tuesday’s game, DeVos said assembled in the Magic’s locker room that he stayed upbeat the team may keep Howard and persuade him to remain in Orlando long term.
Even amid the established trade conjecture that overshadowed Tuesday’s game, Magic president of basketball operations Otis Smith told reporters that no deals for Howard were forthcoming.
There was a sensation throughout Amway Center that Tuesday’s game could have been Howard’s last home game in a magic uniform, and he replied with one of the most productive games of his career. Howard registered 24 points, 25 rebounds, three takes and 2 blocks in 47 minutes.
After spending the best part of the day detailing the impact Howard’s situation has had on the team, Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy wanted no part of the trade talk after the victory.
“Tonight, we are actually going to give a (expletive) about the game,” Van Gundy declared. “It was a battle. I was proud of our players.”
Despite the distractions, the Magic has won 3 uninterrupted games against the Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers and Heat – 3 of the top 5 teams in the East. Howard announced Orlando’s latest run shows the potential the team needs to be a significant element in the meeting playoff race.
Howard did travel with the team late Tuesday night for Wednesday’s game at San Antonio. The Magic come home Friday to play the Nets, one of three teams Howard previously declared he’d be willing to play for if traded.
“I think we’re going to hit our top at the proper time and we’re going to make a great run,” recounted Howard, who wouldn’t address whether he’s now considering a long-term stay. “That doesn’t make any difference. This moment is what matters. Like I mentioned we have got a fantastic opportunity. We got a good shot.”