It seems as though Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard has had a change of heart.
After formally requesting a trade on Saturday, citing a tense relationship with general manager Otis Smith on Sunday, Howard's time in the Disney City looked to be vanishing. However, a recent talk with new CEO Alex Martins and newly-signed Glen Big Baby Davis, which Howard mentioned during the Magic's media day Monday, put that notion to some rest, according to reports.
Sources told ESPN.com that as of Monday, the Magic aren't planning to trade Howard.
If it is meant for me to stay here, I'll stay, said Howard to reporters. I love this city. There is no place I'd rather be but Orlando. I just want to make sure we have the right things here so we can win a championship. I'm all about change. If you're willing to change and you're willing to do what it takes to win then, you know, you got me.
Smith himself wasn't part of the meeting, according to ESPN.com, but reading in between the lines spoken by Howard above, Smith probably didn't need to be. Martins and Davis may have one-upped Smith in doing just enough convincing to the all-star big man that the future for the team looks bright.
With that said, Howard's ability to have bent the will of management now puts the pressure on the latter to cater to Howard's demands, as nice and respectful as he may be about it going forward. If Howard looks back on the '11-'12 season while sitting on his couch in the offseason and believes the Magic didn't do enough to go as far as possible, then he just might reverse course, pull the 1996 Shaquille O' Neal card and completely dump the Magic in free agency to sign a huge contract elsewhere.
So far, the Magic have traded for Davis, re-signed Jason Richardson and waived Gilbert Arenas (a move Howard reportedly disapproved of). They will keep players like Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick, who were all key cogs in driving the team to the NBA Finals in 2009 against the Los Angeles Lakers. How the team will do and how much Howard will be content with what the team does once the season is all said and done, though, remains to be seen, despite the talent surrounding him right now.
ESPN.com reports that Howard said he had pushed for other moves that didn't come to fruition, but declined to be specific about which players those were. Howard said they weren't all stars or high-salaried players, though.
The stuff that I have asked for, the stuff I felt our team needed to get better, none of it has happened, Howard said. That's not me being cocky but I want to be involved with the organization. I've been here for a long time, I don't want to sit around.
ESPN the Magazine's Chris Broussard said that sources close to the situation said that two players Howard had particular interest in, specifically within the past year, were Stephen Jackson and Monta Ellis.
These weren't special guys, just guys I felt would be great for our team, Howard said. It wasn't guys that would take us over the cap or anything like that. It was just guys that I felt would help us on the inside and the outside.
In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel Sunday night, Smith said that he did consult Howard on trades and other moves.
When it's your best player, you really do consult your best player on everything? You do, Smith said. So you consult your best player on free agency. You consult your best players on trades. And that's not uncommon. And I have done that.
Smith also acknowledged that Howard had come to him with suggestions over the years but he didn't make the moves for different reasons.
We looked at some; some we have, some we don't, Smith said. So I'm not necessarily saying that he isn't accurate. I think that there was a list. Some of them are duplicate talent, which is something you can't do all the time. Some, quite frankly, are on your roster.
For now, Howard remains on the roster. The next step for the Magic will be getting him to commit long-term, contingent upon their results after this season is over. Martins told ESPN.com that despite all the trade talk that the team still believes it can convince him to stay and extend his contract.
I'm an optimist, Martins said. I am confident that we can work with Dwight and convince him to stay here long-term.