Dwight Howard Trade Rumors Shouldn't Hurt Endorsement Potential

on July 13 2012 6:22 AM
All eyes are on Dwight Howard as the 3 p.m. NBA trade deadline looms. Even though there are a number of teams Howard could join, it looks like the six-time All-Star center will remain with the Orlando Magic.
All eyes are on Dwight Howard as the 3 p.m. NBA trade deadline looms. Even though there are a number of teams Howard could join, it looks like the six-time All-Star center will remain with the Orlando Magic. Reuters

Dwight Howard trade rumors have dominated the sports world this summer, with NBA journalists breathlessly reporting on the All-Star center's possible move to the Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers or some other big-name NBA team.

The endless chatter about where the Orlando Magic center is headed has made many become tired of the Dwightmare. He's alienated the Magic fanbase with his repeated trade demands, while general NBA fans just want the saga to be over.

The drama has even led some to suggest that Howard's earning potential has been hurt by his wishy-washy trade demands.

ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell tweeted on Wednesday, 1 thing Dwight Howard does not have to worry about: Marketing $. Guy decimated his earning potential for a couple of years.

He followed up saying, Shame about D Howard: I think he's the most natural actor in the league. Can be convincing with any ad script.

On a basic level it makes sense that Howard's demands could hurt his endorsement potential, but one endorsement expert doesn't buy into Rovell's thought process.

I think once he ends up somewhere, all of this will be cast aside because he does have the ability to get marketing, said Joe Favorito, a sports marketing expert and Columbia University instructor. He's always been a good brand ambassador.

Favorito believes that sponsors ultimately don't care about players demanding trades, as long as they continue to deliver on their agreements. Howard has likely hurt his reputation among NBA fans, but his demands shouldn't impact his co-existing relationships with sponsors.

Howard made approximately $12 million in endorsements last season from the likes of Adidas, McDonald's and Vitamin Water, according to Sports Illustrated. Those endorsement numbers paired with more than $16 million in salary from the Magic put him No. 10 on Sports Illustrated's 50 highest-earning American athletes list.

The six-time All-Star built up a massive endorsement portfolio while playing in the relatively small market of Orlando. A common belief is that Howard could make more money in a big market such as New York or Los Angeles.

A CBS Sports story in March detailed that Howard's interest in moving to the Brooklyn Nets could be based on more available endorsement possibilities. Favorito believes that a city like New York has it all, but that a trade to the Nets wouldn't guarantee Howard more endorsements.

Partnering with the right brands and right programs is the most important thing, he said. If (Howard) comes to New York, you get all of these other things if you win. When you combine that with a new arena, I think that it helps but it's not the be-all, end-all.

Deron Williams, who signed a five-year, $98.5 million contract with the Nets on Wednesday, has benefited from the additional opportunities of the New York region, despite little success on the court. The All-Star point guard landed national deals with Audi, Red Bull and Metro PCS, according to his agent, Jeff Schwartz.

Being in a larger market, there's always more opportunities, and coupled with the fact that the Nets are moving to Brooklyn, there's going to be a lot of corporate interest in both the team and its star players, Schwartz told CBS Sports.

Others like Carmelo Anthony, who demanded a trade from the Denver Nuggets to the New York Knicks in 2011, haven't seen major gains in endorsement money in moving from a small market to a big one.

The case of Anthony shows that a move to New York doesn't guarantee more sponsor money, but also that forcing your way off a team, as Howard is trying to do, doesn't directly lead to a loss of endorsements.

A report on Wednesday suggested that the Magic were taking Howard off the trade market for the foreseeable future, leading the Nets to re-sign center Brook Lopez and take themselves out of the running until at least Jan. 15. That won't stop the constant rumors about Howard's future whereabouts, but Favorito stresses that no matter where he goes or why he went there it won't hurt him because we are a very forgiving society.