Dwight Howard’s agent defends spin after confirming he leaked details of meeting with Magic

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“They started it!”

This is what professional business negotiations have, once again, turned into, in the NBA.

A day after David Stern outed Dwight Howard agent Dan Fegan as the source of leaks concerning Howard’s meeting with the Orlando Magic this week, Fegan hit the media again, this time with regards to why he leaked details of the meeting.

It wasn’t his fault!

The Magic started it! He swears!

From ESPN, in an email that was no doubt distributed across the board:

“On the morning prior to Wednesday’s supposedly confidential meeting between Dwight Howard and Rob Hennigan, there were media reports stating a meeting was taking place later that same day,” wrote agent Dan Fegan of LaGardere Unlimited in an email. “Prior to the actual meeting, Dwight’s business manager and I met with Rob, reminded him that we had not requested the meeting, had been reluctant to take it and were concerned that the Magic had leaked that a meeting was taking place.

“Both during and after the meeting, we continued to get communications from the media telling us that they had confirmation that the meeting was occurring and/or had taken place. After the meeting, some media requested comments on information they allegedly already had on what had taken place in the meeting. I want to stress that none of the information the reporters had about the meeting at this point came from us.

“After receiving these media inquiries, I called Rob and left several messages expressing concern that what had occurred in the meeting was not going to be accurately reported — as had happened on previous occasions — and that we were going to respond to the media inquiries to make sure that reports were accurate. To a limited extent, that is what we did.”

via Dwight Howard’s agent, Dan Fegan, confirms David Stern’s accusation – ESPN Los Angeles.

Oh, he just wanted to clear things up. Just to make sure things were accurate.

Got it.

/eyebrow raise

Look, the Magic aren’t innocent in all this. They’re playing games through the media. They’ve just been substantially more quiet about it than the Nets and Howard’s team. But if Fegan’s leaking this information, the reporters are forced to report on it, because it’s a credible source. It’s his agent, who was at the meeting. The problem is that that source is transparently and emphatically trying to shift the public conversation in one direction: Dwight’s way. That’s his job. This isn’t Fegan’s fault, either. He’s doing his job to protect and serve his client.

But if one side says something happened in the meeting, and I’m sure it was “accurate” from their perspective, why not get the other side’s take? Why not get what the Magic have to say about it?

Because the Magic know they don’t gain anything by leaking that information. Even if they did leak that Howard was meeting with the team, that’s an innocuous leak. There’s no real gain for them there. “Team meets with player they have on contract.” But the details are what caused an uproar. The Magic aren’t leaking their side, they’re not leaking that they met with Howard but did not meet to try and convince him to stay, or anything about the intent of the meeting, which was something Fegan let loose which apparently they interpreted as Hennigan trying to convince Howard to stay, when he’s clearly not. The Magic aren’t leaking more harmful information about what Howard did.

It hurts their leverage. It limits their ability to trade him. It keeps them stuck in this never-ending cycle of misery everyone, including the media at this point, is trapped in.

The Magic don’t need to meet with Howard. Howard doesn’t need to meet with the Magic. No one needs to leak anything. The Magic need to work to find the deal they need, get it, trade him, and forget Dwight Howard ever happened to the franchise.

Such a shame for something that brought so many people in Florida joy for so many years.

It is kind of weird that the fourth wall has been broken with Fegan himself becoming the story. Don’t see that happen much. Then again, nothing about this process of holding a team hostage to try and force Howard’s way to Brooklyn has been normal.

Without better options, Heat settle for sentimentality

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NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

Dwyane Wade took discounts from the Heat for years, seemingly expecting a larger windfall down the road.

It won’t come.

But Wade and Miami will enjoy one last dance together.

Wade is re-signing with the Heat on a one-year minimum contract he said would be for his final season, concluding a nostalgic summer in Miami. The Heat also re-signed local legend Udonis Haslem to another one-year minimum deal.

I wouldn’t expect much from either player on the court. If anything, Wade might prove destructive if the the 36-year-old uses his cachet to assume a larger role than he should handle. Haslem has barely played the last couple years, and that probably won’t change.

Still, there’s something to be said for proper sendoffs. Considering the high standards Wade and Haslem helped set for the franchise by winning three championships, this was unlikely to be a banner year in Miami, anyway. There’s value in honoring Wade and Haslem one more time.

Mostly, the Heat acted like a solid, stuck team this summer – because that’s what they are. That probably contributed to them not rewarding Wade for his prior sacrifice.

Yet, Miami eclipsed the luxury-tax line to sign Wayne Ellington, a helpful cog, to a one-year, $6.27 million deal. The tax isn’t assessed until the final day of the regular season, so there’s still plenty of time for the Heat to dodge it. In fact, I predict they will. But by at least temporarily exceeding the tax line, Miami gave itself its best chance of maintaining its level of play.

The Heat sure didn’t upgrade, though. They made no draft picks and didn’t touch their mid-level exception. Their only outside addition to receive a guaranteed salary was Derrick Jones Jr., who signed a minimum contract with a second year unguaranteed. The 21-year-old athlete is a worthwhile flier, but he sure isn’t a difference maker.

Neither are Wade and Haslem anymore – outside of our fond memories of the pair, and that counts for something. Just not enough to change Miami’s trajectory.

Offseason grade: C

Report: Jimmy Butler ‘isn’t dead set’ on demanding trade from Timberwolves

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Jimmy Butler says he’ll meet with the Timberwolves today – not yesterday, as initially reported.

The far bigger issue: What will happen in the meeting?

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

I’m told, though, that while Butler has serious questions about the direction of the franchise, he’s still willing to hear Minnesota out, and isn’t dead set on demanding a trade elsewhere.

Butler probably wouldn’t demand a trade. That gets players fined. Paul George laid out a far more likely roadmap last offseason: Butler could inform Minnesota he won’t re-sign next offseason. Left to their own devices, the Timberwolves would probably trade him.

But would it get to even that point? That’s the big question looming over the day. If Butler hasn’t yet made up his mind, that would give Tom Thibodeau a chance to convey a plan.

Of course, this isn’t entirely up to Butler, either. If Minnesota must choose between Butler and Karl-Anthony Townswho reportedly won’t sign his rookie-scale extension until the Butler situation is handled – Butler could get dealt regardless of what he wants.

So much could come to a head today, but apparently there isn’t an inevitable outcome. Is Butler leaning a certain way, though? “Isn’t dead set” on demanding a trade isn’t exactly a huge vote of confidence.

Marcus Smart posts heartfelt tribute to mother, who died Sunday

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Marcus Smart delivered one of my favorite quotes after the Celtics beat the Rockets last season:

Smart — when asked if he prides himself in being “a pain in the ass” — chuckled.

“I guess you could say that,” Smart said. “My mom might say that. But nah, I play defense with passion, and defense wins games, and that was proven tonight.”

A deep love is the subtext behind that quip. Smart put it on display again – unfortunately after the death of Camellia Smart, who had been battling cancer.

Smart:

Smart plays with such heart, passion and toughness. If his mother were his role model, he honors her every time he takes the court.

Jimmy Butler says his meeting with Thibodeau, Timberwolves is Tuesday (today)

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There are a lot of questions surrounding Jimmy Butler‘s meeting with Tom Thibodeau and the Minnesota Timberwolves brass: Can the Butler/Karl-Anthony Towns relationship be repaired? Is Thibodeau the guy who could repair it, or is he entrenched on one side of that battle? Will the situation be resolved enough for Towns to sign the max extension to his rookie contract that has been sitting on the table since July? Will Butler asked to be moved?

That meeting had been reported to be Monday, but Butler said on Twitter it’s Tuesday, and did so in a snide way.

Who cares if the reporting (by Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania of The Vertical) on the day was one off if the substance of the meeting is the same? It’s not some massive error that throws the entire reporting into question. This feels like a high school history teacher testing about the date for the battle of Gettysburg and not why it was a turning point in the Civil War — the substance is what matters more.

Butler doesn’t deny or get into the substance of the meeting, which is what matters.

What comes out of that meeting will have a significant impact on the Timberwolves one way or another this season. Minnesota won 47 games last season and made the playoffs for the first time since 2004, but it’s hard to see how they take a step forward if the locker room remains this fractured (and in a very deep West they need to take a step forward to make the playoffs again this season).