The latest news in the Dwight Howard trade rumors saga is that there are six to eight teams still trying to land the talented big man, according to Orlando Magic's general manager.
Magic general manager Otis Smith told the Orlando Sentinel the Dwight Howard sweepstakes is down to six to eight teams despite everybody in the league calling about him.
Smith declined to get into any more specifics and told the Sentinel that it was early and that usually nothing gets done until the 15th. The 15th referring to the NBA's trade deadline on March 15th.
Smith's comments come a few days after Magic CEO Alex Martins told Yahoo Sports that he was encouraged by recent conversations with Howard's representatives.
We've had good conversations with him and his people, Martins told Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski last Friday. That gives me hope.
Martins' comments combined with Smith's comments add more creedence to the belief that the Magic will opt to keep Howard past the trade deadline. There is an incredible amount of interest in obtaining Howard - the Nets are believed to desperately want to pair him with point guard Deron Williams - but the Magic believe they have a good chance to sign him to a long-term deal.
Howard demanded a trade in the off-season, but the Magic's strategy seems to be trying to wait things out and improve the team as much as they can. This strategy could ultimately pay off big if the Magic could hold onto the face of their franchise, but also is risky. If Howard leaves via free agency, as he could do if he isn't dealt by the trade deadline, the Magic could lose their best player and get nothing in return.
The New York Post reported on Tuesday that Orlando still clings to the hope Howard will choose to remain with the Magic and that in past talks with team management Howard proclaims his love of team and city.
Comments like those have kept the Magic hanging on to hope, but with each passing day the situation becomes more of a predicament. The Nets could provide some young talent like Brook Lopez and multiple first-round picks for Howard, but it will just come down to whether the Magic believe they can keep him.