That was just before Mr. Loyalty was reported by ESPN to have claimed the team “blackmailed” him in March into waiving his option to become a free agent this summer. Howard approached the NBA players association about possible legal recourse.
“The Indecision” was back in play again.
Apparently Dwight wanted out again.
Sidelined late in the season by back surgery, Howard plied leverage behind the scenes, maneuvering to get a quality head coach who deserved better, Stan Van Gundy, fired. In an extraordinary news conference on April 5, the always-honest Van Gundy stated flatly someone in management told him Howard wanted him fired.
On May 21, Van Gundy was fired.
The implication was that the sought-after coaching change might coax Howard to sign a contract extension and remain in Orlando.
But that was before late last week, when Howard not only reiterated his trade demand but reportedly insisted he be traded only to the Brooklyn ( nee New Jersey) Nets. No matter that Howard has no clause in his contract that allows him to say where he could be traded. And no matter that such a specific demand ruins Orlando’s bargaining power to get the best deal for itself.
The thing is, the Nets show indications of moving on past a possible Howard trade. They hope to re-sign free agent point guard Deron Williams to a maximum contract and re-signed forward Gerald Wallace to a four-year $40 million deal.
Other teams interested in Howard with the wherewithal to acquire him — Rockets and Lakers, maybe Warriors or Mavericks — might naturally be dissuaded to spend big to rent Howard for one season before he then would become a free agent, especially knowing he preferred to play elsewhere.
So what have we?
The repercussions of Howard’s one-man drama, “The Indecision,” have decimated the Magic, playing a role in the departure of 17 front-office folks from the CEO to the general manager to the coach.
And now comes the possibility that Howard could be back for one more season with the team he helped ruin, an unwilling superstar in a city he demands to leave, a formerly beloved player now scorned by fans.
Not even Superman is strong enough to make this botchery go away.
Meanwhile, LeBron James just looks better and better, not only as a champion, but by comparison.