Some speculated that Orlando's decision to dump Van Gundy and Smith after Howard publicly feuded with both would lead the talented big man to sign a long-term contract, but Chris Sheridan reports that it is not so.
A source close to Howard told Sheridan that the All-Star center desperately wants to be traded prior to the start of next season. The Brooklyn Nets are the favorites to land Howard, but the source said the Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers would also contend for his services.
Howard, currently in rehabilitation from back surgery, opted in for next season with the Magic, but reportedly doesn't want to stay there much longer. Orlando execs are expected to meet with Howard in the near future to discuss his long-term plans and will look to deal him if he makes it clear that he'd rather be elsewhere.
ESPN's Stephen A. Smith also reported that Howard wants out of Orlando, but that his family desperately wants him to stay there.
As Chris Sheridan noted, the Magic aren't interested in being strung along as they were all season with constant rumors about Howard's departure corroding the team's chemistry. Orlando will look to package Howard with Hedo Turkoglu, who is owed $23.6 million over the next two years, to the highest bidder.
In return, the Nets could offer the Magic Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks, and multiple first-round draft picks, as they have in the past, but it's unknown whether that offer will be good enough.
The latest report that Howard wants out of Orlando again showcases the risk of letting your best player get involved with management decisions. The Magic denied on Monday that Howard was the reason behind its cleaning house, but it was clear that Howard won the battle of wills over his coach and general manager.