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The Inbounds: Dwight Howard and the need for quiet time

Jul 26, 2012, 10:02 AM EDT

Dwight Howard AP

Moderation in all things.

There’s room in our discussion for NBA players to have choices about their lives and careers, to have the opportunity to decide their own fate, to express their wishes to management and not simply shut up and play, and for us not to be left with what Dwight Howard has given us. We thought LeBron’s Decision was crushing and absurd, and that seems like nothing more than a rude declaration at this point. We thought the Melodrama was the furthest application of player power, engineering a trade to the team he wanted.

But this? This Dwightmare? It’s gone beyond anything that we thought would happen. It has crossed every boundary of reasonable expectation for a player’s behavior and at this point resembles some giant-sized child, smashing houses while it screams that it wanted its birthday cake with aqua-colored icing, not blue.

Consider the latest nonsense to come trickling out, as Yahoo Sports and CBSSports.com reported late Wednesday night that the Magic center met with GM Rob Hennigan and his assistant GM along with his agent Dan Fegan and his manager, and not only reiterated his trade demand for the 700th time, but “pointedly” questioned why the Magic hadn’t traded him yet. He pushed again for the Nets in the long-term, and the Lakers in the short-term.

Wait.

Hold up.

One second.

Trade demands are nothing new, that’s a common defense of Howard from the seven people left on the planet who don’t feel he’s being a complete brat. And that’s certainly accurate. And the new standard is to demand a trade where you want to go so you can get that full five-year (or six under the previous CBA)  deal and have the market you want. OK, fine, we can even live with that. It’s a bit too much cake to eat it, too, considering it’s a deliberate attempt to hold a team hostage in order to avoid the restrictions of the available market in free agency, but fine.

But now Howard’s asking about why the Magic haven’t made this or that deal?

“I’ve held you hostage for a year, put your franchise’s ownership through an emotional rollercoaster, tortured your fans, and made your organization seem like a complete joke, and now I’m going to tell you which deal you should take in exchange for the All-Star who you had the foresight to draft, develop, and build around. Wah.”

This is the worst kind of exercising of player power. It’s not just the audacity of Howard to essentially demand that the Magic take an absolutely wretched deal (seriously, have you seen the Nets’ deal particulars?), but it’s this key element: Who do you think leaked these talks to the media?

It’s not the Magic. All it does is serve to hurt their leverage in getting a deal for Howard, something they’ve had to fight against Howard’s nonsense to get for six months. It was Howard’s camp, trying to undermine the Magic’s efforts. If they lose leverage, a deal comes faster, and may land Howard where he wants. If it doesn’t, it still hurts the Magic’s leverage and could land him in Brooklyn at the trade deadline.

As if he hasn’t done enough to this franchise.

As if last season wasn’t ruined under a cloud of drama, as if this season hasn’t already been destroyed by the impending trade. Those players know Howard’s gone, they know they will play as professionals, and yet it won’t matter. Howard has sucked two years from this franchise, and now he’s going to question which deals they take?

Howard wants to know what is taking so long, why he hasn’t been dealt yet. And the answer is because since Howard has abandoned the so-called “loyalty” he has for the franchise, their primary responsibility is not to him. It’s to themselves. Rob Hennigan still has to manage the Magic after this trade. He still has to try and get the best deal for the Magic going forward. His job is not to make Dwight Howard happy. The Magic don’t owe Howard happiness. They owe him his money, and they  owe him the courtesy of keeping him informed. There has been nothing to inform him of, so they haven’t contacted him. They don’t owe him a trade, they don’t owe him a trade where he wants, they don’t owe him a trade where he wants, when he wants. The Magic were a franchise before Dwight Howard’s goofy smile went to Florida, they will be one after.

If Howard really wanted this deal completed as quickly as possible? He’d think back to Kindergarten and remember quiet time. He needs to disappear from public view. No interviews, no meetings, and most importantly, no leaked meetings or feelings. Keep your camp tight, don’t talk to anyone, shut off all conversations. This thing will sort itself out. He’s made his feelings crystal clear, the Magic know who they can and can’t deal with. This thing will happen in its own time. But trying to rush it along is only going to hurt Hennigan’s leverage, which means he has to take more time to recover it. Hennigan has to give teams the indication he’s under no real hurry or pressure to trade Howard, and he only will if the deal he wants will come. He’s not going to get that if teams know that Howard’s constantly bending them and pressuring them in certain directions.

Howard’s best move is to just stop. To be quiet, and wait. This isn’t about a sentiment about players not expressing their wishes. If a player is unhappy, he should be able to express to management that he is. Howard has done that. A hundred times. A player should be able to request/demand a trade. Howard has done that. A hundred times. The Magic don’t want him around anymore anymore than he wants to be in Orlando. This is a stressful and unpleasant situation, and the Magic aren’t the ones dragging it out. Were they able to solicit offers across the market for Howard, if Howard had publicly expressed he’ll play anywhere but Orlando but privately only in a certain number of cities, Hennigan would be able to ratchet up the offers and get a better deal.

Howard is, in fact, working against himself. He’s hurting his own chances of being traded, and banking on Hennigan rolling over. As much as management and ownership in days gone by had little confidence in the intelligence or savvy of the players, now it seems the players think management will just do what they want, on their timeline, when they snap their fingers. That’s now how it works. Howard’s holding a franchise hostage, then asking why the franchise he’s holding hostage won’t let him leave.

You’re holding them hostage, man! Put the threat away and everyone can get out of this bank and go home!

But no. Not in this new era of player power gone to the extremes. For years, players have been exploited by management and ownership, taken advantage of, robbed of their ability to express their desires and play out their careers the way they want. Now we’re seeing the ugly other side of it, as a player thinks he’s standing up for himself when he’s really just acting the child.

It’s time for quiet time, Dwight. Your complaints have been duly noted. You have exerted your power and influence over the situation. Everyone respects how important you are. Now go away and let the big boys get the business of ending this disaster you’ve created done.

  1. dylude - Jul 26, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    Great article

  2. raysfan1 - Jul 26, 2012 at 10:26 AM

    Give him the same treatment that football teams have given players who became cancers–pay him his money but order him to stay away. If someone wants to trade for him, not named the Lakers or Nets, fine. Otherwise, at this point they’re better off just paying him to go away. His drama simply is not worth his production, considerable though it is.

    • yougotg - Jul 26, 2012 at 12:26 PM

      you forget they are the ones that asked him to Opt in for one more year!! How can everyone just dismiss that.

      • mogogo1 - Jul 26, 2012 at 12:56 PM

        I’d love to know what was communicated behind the scenes. It seems almost impossible to believe the Magic did all they did without some assurances that Howard would stay. It wasn’t just the extra year; they dumped both their coach and GM. Would anybody do that on just the blind hope it would make a difference? Either Howard lied to them or they took an incredible gamble on lost.

      • anythingbutyanks - Jul 26, 2012 at 2:08 PM

        You forget that Dwight Howard is the one who agreed to opt in for one more year!! How can you just dismiss that?

      • yougotg - Jul 26, 2012 at 2:54 PM

        He was stupid to do it, and they were stupid to ask him.. no innocent victims here.

  3. luckysunday20 - Jul 26, 2012 at 10:28 AM

    As much as I agree with you that Howard is an complete and utter fool for opting in then crying about it why is no one taking a good hard look at the Magic organization for not cashing in on his foolish opt in?

    They have had the opportunity to trade Howard and bad contracts in the mist of this off-season while teams are rebuilding and have free cap space as opposed to last yrs trade deadline or this yrs coming one where everyone won’t have any cap room yet they still sit here looking for a kings ransom.

    • mogogo1 - Jul 26, 2012 at 1:12 PM

      Just another day for a rudderless organization. Let’s take a look at their firing of Van Gundy. Dude won 65% of his games, they dump him solely because Howard doesn’t like him, yet still fail to get Howard to re-sign. That’s bad enough by itself, but if you’re going to go that far to keep the guy, why not go the extra mile and just find out who he wants to be his coach? Hard to believe Howard is all that excited about Jacque Vaughn who seems to be the frontrunner for the job. They had absolutely no plan beyond “let’s fire Van Gundy and see if Dwight likes that.”

  4. gmsalpha - Jul 26, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    The part I came away with is that you’re right, Dwight should have publicly been open to playing anywhere except Orlando, but let it be known to the Magic that he was privately only open to the Nets and Lakers, and maybe the Mavericks. Dwight really did hurt himself by hurting the Magic.

    I don’t imagine the Timberwolves, Kings, or Grizzlies would be making strong offers, but at least there would be a few more teams willing to gamble, such as the Bulls, Warriors, and perhaps the Rockets would give up what was reported (or more).

  5. mojosmagic - Jul 26, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    The Magic should do whatever they feel is right for their franchise. Howard is being paid 20m a year and acts like he is doing the Magic a favor by playing for them. The NBA is run more and more by selfish superstars and it is ruining the game as well as the competitive balance of the league.

  6. dysraw1 - Jul 26, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    you guys posted the other day that the Magic were gonna make another crack at their franchise center, so how can this be a quiet time for the man it seems to me that its the Magic who’s holding things up the man doesn’t want to play for Orlando fine get the best deal you can an move on sure hes made things difficult by saying he’d only sign long term with the Nets. but so if understand correctly he has to play this season for Orlando. heres what Lebron didn’t do in his free agency period he didn’t give his franchise the chance to get the best possible deal available. which is what Orlando should be preparing to close the book D.H time rebuilding isn’t as bad as thinking this guys is gonna change his mind

    • LPad - Jul 26, 2012 at 11:08 AM

      The Magic blew any chance of Howard resigning after Stan Van Gundy told the media Howard wanted him gone. You can’t convince a guy to sign an extension based on loyalty and then leak private conversations he had with management to the person it most negatively affects. Stop looking for the next “Melo” trade (a trade that has not made the Nuggets contenders) and take the best deal available. The Lakers aren’t going to blow up a contending team in the middle of the year for Howard. Heck, they won’t even trade for him if he won’t commit to an extenstion, which he has said several times that he won’t.

      • dysraw1 - Jul 26, 2012 at 11:11 AM

        they better do something

  7. rodge1 - Jul 26, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    Why have there been no video clips of Orlando fans burning Howard jerseys or video clips of Orlando fans crying over what he’s doing to the franchise?… I’m interested to see if NBA-in-game commentators make biased comments about Dwight this season like they did about LBJ last season. I’m also very curious to see if the same haters who posted ignorant comments about Miami/LBJ for the past 2 years will do the same with Howard & whichever team he ends up with…. Anyone?… Bueller?… Bueller?…Anyone?

    • jolink653 - Jul 26, 2012 at 11:45 AM

      Dwight Howard is making it perfectly clear that he doesn’t want to be in Orlando while Lebron made it seem like he was leaning towards resigning with Cleveland before signing with Miami out of nowhere and Howard isn’t turning his back on the state where he was born and raised while Lebron did and Lebron left the Cavs with absolutely nothing besides terrible draft picks while Orlando can at least get a good package for Howard…That being said Howard is a total moron for handling this like a ten year old kid and I wish they could trade him to China so we don’t have to hear from him anymore…By making public demands and telling the Magic that he was only willing to sign with Brooklyn, he took all the leverage away from Henningan and now they’ll be forced to accept whatever awful package that any team will offer so he’s not only acting like a moron and making himself look stupid, he’s torpedoing the franchise on the way out the door…not that what Lebron did was any better

      • waxthat - Jul 26, 2012 at 1:00 PM

        “Lebron left the Cavs with absolutely nothing besides terrible draft picks…”

        lol they got the #1 and #4 picks the next season lol really kyrie irving is “terrible”

      • jolink653 - Jul 26, 2012 at 1:26 PM

        Uhh yeah because the picks that Miami sent to Cleveland in the sign-and-trade for Lebron that wound up being at the end of the first round were the picks that resulted in Kyrie Irving….

  8. hoodheisman - Jul 26, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    This is really about Howard’s agent vs the Magic more than anything else. The only way Howard gets traded to the team he wants is by his agent making these leaks to scare off teams that would be nothing more than a lateral move for Howard. While it may be in Orlando’s best interest for Howard’s agents to keep quiet, it is definitely not in Howard’s best interest if his goal is to get a max deal in LA or Brooklyn. Just as Orlando could care less where Howard wants to go, Howard could care less what Orlando gets in return. To be completely impartial, Orlando is equally to blame because it is Orlando that overpaid several subpar players that Orlando is trying to force down some other teams throat.

    At the end of the day, this will hurt the Magic more. Brooklyn and LA still want Howard and will get him in a sign and trade, even if it takes place next summer much like LeBron’s sign and trade to Miami. But now you see a guy like Bynum say he’ll sign an extension in Cleveland or Houston or Dallas, but not Orlando. While the media and some fans may side with Orlando, most players will side with Howard, and unfortunately for Orlando, players win championships, not the media and fans.

    • gmsalpha - Jul 26, 2012 at 12:40 PM

      It’s “couldn’t care less”, by the way.

      If you COULD care less, it means you care. I think you’re trying to say they don’t care at all, which means they could NOT care less.

  9. rodge1 - Jul 26, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    @dysraw1

    LeBron’s only obligation was to play out the contract he signed. He not only did that but took that team to the finals and put that team back on the map. He requested the team to sign better players arose play with him without holding the team hostage for multiple years. When they didn’t do that he realized his best chance to win was with a better franchise. You would do the same.

    • dysraw1 - Jul 26, 2012 at 11:26 AM

      i know that leaving the franchise with a giant hole was the correct thing for him to do i never said that he should have stayed. my comment was how he left that will forever be wrong because he could have just told Dan look get what you can i won’t be back now that i can respect.

  10. nyyankeedave - Jul 26, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    Shut.Up.Dwight.Howard.

  11. miamatt - Jul 26, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    I said it at the time that Hennigan should have taken the Houston deal. End the Dwightmare as soon as your watch begins, and get a slew of picks. Many of those future picks could have been high lottery picks after Howard left Houston high and dry. Hennigan is right to wait for the best deal at this point, but I think what the Rockets offered was as good as it’s going to get. Howard has undermined all of Orlando’s leverage. It would have been great to see the Magic not only get a great deal to kickstart rebuilding, but to stick it to Howard by ignoring his preferred destinations.

    At least Denver got great value in the end. I fear that Orlando is in a no-win situation here.

  12. yougotg - Jul 26, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    Last I checked it was the Magic that asked Howard to sign in.. lasst I checked it is only the Magic that can move on from Howard, he can’t trade himself. Last I checked he doesn’t OWE them anything other than to show up and play hard.

    The Magic front office was a joke, they had good offers on the table LAST year, could’ve had this years Nets lottery pick, plus many more picks. Now what are they going to get? THEY held him too long, that cost them leverage,, he GAVE them leverage by signing the OPT IN.

    You can’t give management a free pass and only blame howard. That’s just factually incorrect and make you look like you have an ax to grind.

  13. misterdreamer119 - Jul 26, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    Why did he sign the extension? Why? Whats in this kids head?

    • skids003 - Jul 26, 2012 at 12:43 PM

      Nothing. That’s the problem.

  14. dsims7 - Jul 26, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    This guy is a disaster! T.O.? Latrell Sprewell? Brent Farve? Iverson? too much ego and no team!

  15. magicbucs - Jul 26, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    Everyone will be booing and throwing hot dogs at Dwight cause he’s a big wiener. I can’t wait to hear the chants while at the FT line while playing away from home… A$$$$$$$$ hole, A$$$$$$ hole, a$$$$$ hole… Nobody in Orlando is burning his jerseys cause this isn’t Cleveland. We just want him gone.

  16. metrocritical - Jul 26, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    And to think that this would’ve been a quiet summer had he just been smart enough to leave as a free agent when he had the chance.

  17. Chris Fiorentino - Jul 26, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    I don’t understand the rush for the Magic to trade him at all. Period. Let him play out this year then let him go on the open market. Nobody he wants to play for has any room left. So if they want him next year, they will have to do a sign-and-trade or he gets the veteran minimum or whatever exception they have. Where’s the rush to do a lousy trade now? Might as well wait until next year because this isn’t the LeBron/Bosh situation. NOBODY has the cap room that Miami had next year. But even if someone did, the Nets do not, and will not, and since that is really where he wants to go, why rush into something now. He has backed himself into a corner and he is now screwed. He isn’t going to get a max deal on the FA market. Period. So why even try trading him unless the deal is outrageously good…which is exactly what the Magic are doing. Kudos to them!!!

    • Kevin S. - Jul 26, 2012 at 3:52 PM

      Hey Chris! Been a while. Anyway, not so sure I agree with some of your contentions. If it’s true that Howard is only willing to play with the Lakers or the Nets, well then yeah, he wouldn’t be able to sign for more than the taxpayer mid-level exception next summer. The Nets and Lakers effectively can’t S&T for him. But just because those are the only two teams he’s willing to commit to right now does not mean those are the only two teams he’d prefer playing with over Orlando. Dallas has been floated as his fallback. I have no idea if it’s because Dwight really has playing with Dirk as his third-best option or if he’s simply listing a team that A) has max-space next summer but B) has absolutely zero trade assets right now as a way to leverage the Magic into moving him to either Brooklyn or LA, but walking to Dallas is absolutely a credible threat. If Dwight wants to join a Big Three setup (or more realistically, a Big Two and a Half) as a free agent, Atlanta presents a reasonable opportunity. By trading Lou Williams, Al Horford and Marcus Teague for nothing but draft picks (or trading Williams/Teague and letting Josh Smith walk), the Hawks would have enough room to sign Dwight, CP3 and Smith/Horford under the cap. Heck, even Houston, so thoroughly unattractive to Dwight if it gives up all its assets to trade for him, looks a lot better if Dwight comes as a free agent and Houston uses those assets to land other pieces. Dwight Howard definitely has options if he goes to free agency, and I have a hard time believing Orlando would be better off not unloading a single terrible contract or getting a single asset in return for Howard.

    • lions4lo - Jul 26, 2012 at 4:35 PM

      I agree. Let him play out the year. He will have no choice but to perform well going into a free agency situation. NOBODY will pay him the big bucks if he drags ass and keeps running his mouth. Just shut up, play ball, and cash your enormous check!

  18. vikesfansteve - Jul 26, 2012 at 3:37 PM

    Poor Stan Van Gundy having to put up with that drama queen everyday. Then Howard would cry to the media then deny it. Was not me. Howard is the kind of guy who will take a dump on your front porch, ring the door bell, ask for TP, wipe his ass throw the paper on the ground then look you straight in the eye & say it wasn’t me.

    Whatever team better be wary of any player who decides to have surgery on an injury that was never diagnosed right before the playoffs. After lobbying to get the coach fired from the team he wants to be away from.

    Howard is no Superman. More like Bizarro.

  19. 24thesho - Jul 26, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    I sure hope this kid has been working really hard on his free throws, passing and low post moves. He’s just not that good for all of this nonsense. Say what you want about the Lakers’ A. Bynum, he did help to win a couple of “ships”…, immaturity and all.

  20. 24thesho - Jul 26, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    Maybe it’s because Howard wasn’t properly breast fed when he was a baby.

  21. sabatimus - Jul 26, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    Those two words could not be more appropriate or accurate: SHUT UP! It’s at the point now where Dwight, when (or if, given his vacillating) he goes to another team, might be seen as a cancer because he’s been jerking his organization around, quite vocally, for a long time. “I want a trade; No I don’t want a trade, I just want better teammates; I want out NOW; I’ll wait til the following year is up”. For crying out LOUD.

  22. omniusprime - Jul 27, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    The Orlando Diva is just plain pathetic as a human being, he is a true waste of skin. Dwightmare shows us the true horrors of free agency, I remember the good old days of pro sports before free agency and it has been a total failure for sports and fans. Just as long as this dirtbag doesn’t end up on the Lakers and we keep Andrew Bynum, the best center in the NBA I’ll be happy.

  23. mitchrog - Jul 27, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    If I could like this a gajillion times I would. I am a big Magic fan, have been for 17 years, was there through the “Heart and Hustle” season…. Love my team and I was a big Dwight Howard suppporter, but now, he demonstrates once again what happens when you give a child too many toys and too much money, they don’t have to grow up and end up crappy adults, spoiled and entitled. He is an emotionally stunted child, throwing a tantrum. as they say in the bars, you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here, go… dwight…. just go.

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