Even after an impressive overtime win by the Magic against the Heat last night, the post-game focus was on the off-court story: Dwight Howard's future. As we covered in yesterday's round-up of Howard rumors, D12 told reporters he'd like the Magic to keep him for the rest of the season and "roll the dice" this summer. Considering earlier Tuesday reports indicated that Howard's long-term plan involves signing with the Nets as a free agent so New Jersey doesn't have to trade core assets, Dwight's suggestion that Orlando roll the dice seemed particularly brash.
Zach Lowe of SI.com called Howard's post-game speech the low point of the ongoing saga, while Ken Berger of CBS Sports reported that some Magic executives were privately disgusted with the star center's comments. We expect plenty more updates to pour in as the day goes on, so we'll track them all here, with the latest items up top:
- The Knicks are intrigued by the possibility of acquiring Howard, but won't offer Carmelo Anthony, since James Dolan "loves him," tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. I'd say that takes New York out of the running, since the Magic wouldn't be nearly as interested in an Amare Stoudemire/Tyson Chandler package.
- There are no legs to the rumor that the Magic are working on a three-team deal to bring in Josh Smith (linked below), tweets Jarrod Randolph of RealGM.com.
- According to ESPN.com's Chad Ford, the Nets would be open to offering the Magic anything they want for Howard, with the exception of Deron Williams.
- Orlando still seems to be entertaining deals that could bring in help around Howard, as Bill Ingram of HoopsWorld reports that they're eyeing the Hawks' Josh Smith. The Magic would need to get a third team involved, perhaps the Timberwolves and Michael Beasley. Given Orlando's lack of tradeable assets, acquiring Smith seems like an extreme long shot to me.
- The Magic are telling teams they intend to move Howard if they don't receive a commitment beyond this season from Dwight, according to ESPN.com's Chris Broussard. We have the details here.
- Nets sources insist the team would give up assets in the next 24 hours if it meant landing Howard, but Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld explains why New Jersey may not be motivated to make a substantial offer. If Howard and Williams sign in Brooklyn this summer, the pair would want a third significant player to join them, and the Nets may be considering saving its trade chips to acquire that player.
- According to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, the Magic have looked into Ramon Sessions and Devin Harris as potential acquisitions if they don't move Howard.
- Sources tell SI.com's Sam Amick that the Lakers and Knicks have engaged the Magic in recent days. The Lakers and Magic have discussed Howard in the hopes that he'll change his stance about not signing long-term with Los Angeles. The Knicks' call was merely exploratory, says Amick.
- An Eastern Conference GM tells Dave D'Alessandro of the Star-Ledger that he'd offer Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol for Howard if he were running the Lakers.
- Howard's comments last night exhibit why CEO Alex Martins and owner Rich DeVos still believe the Magic have a chance to keep Howard, writes Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld. GM Otis Smith and coach Stan Van Gundy think Howard should be traded though, believing that begging him to opt in for next season is just delaying the inevitable. They're ready to move on, says Kennedy.