Dwight Howard is not talking about Dwight Howard the free agent.
But theoretically next season Howard could turn the Magic into this season’s Denver Nuggets — he could use the threat of his free agency to force a trade.
But that’s not happening either. Magic GM Otis Smith made that clear as possible to ESPN after the Magic were eliminated Thursday.
“We’re not trading him,” Smith told ESPN.com on Thursday regarding Howard. “You can print it wherever you want it, but it ain’t ever going to bed until he signs a contract extension or signs somewhere else….”
I asked Smith whether Howard has told him directly that he wants to remain the Magic’s cornerstone.
“Yeah, and he’s said it to you guys, too,” Smith said. “But it’s not enough [for the media]. It’s not enough until he signs. [The media] is going to talk about it, and everybody else is going to talk about it until we’re blue in the face, no matter what he says.”
Good for them. Howard and the Magic are handling this well.
Smith did confirm that the Magic have offered Howard a two-year contract extension, which he has yet to sign. Not signing keeps his options open (and puts pressure on Smith to get more talent around Howard). So we play the waiting game.
Which means the speculation will not stop. Whether Smith and Howard talk about it or not. They realize this. The best they can hope is their moves help keep the volume down.