The Magic scored a tremendously satisfying win on Sunday when they downed Dwight Howard and the Lakers. Powered on the offensive end by Arron Afflalo and Glen Davis, the Magic employed the "Hack-A-Howard" strategy and forced the big man to try and win the game from the charity stripe. Yesterday, Magic senior vice president Pat Williams spoke with 95.7 The Game to about the post-Howard era in Orlando and Steven Cuce of Sports Radio Interviews has the goods..
How’s this year going without Dwight Howard? How’s the transition going?
Well, it cleared up very nicely [Sunday] night in Los Angeles. Oh boy, Orlando Magic fans were dancing in the street last night. That was a beautiful win for us. We’ve been struggling up to that point. The Dwight thing has calmed down. It was tumultuous for 12 months, really, and just difficult. What are you going to do when your great player and top guy says, ‘I don’t want to be here anymore?’ Move me on. It’s extremely difficult and we had to deal with it the best we could. We tried to convince Dwight to stay here and this could be his long-term home and he was … far better off being here, but he didn’t buy it. And New York or L.A. seemed to have the lure for him. We made the best deal we could and it was a big one — a four-team trade and one of the biggest in NBA history. We ended up with six players and five future draft choices. It was a massive trade, but I think it settled here and the fans’ position was if Dwight didn’t want to be here, so be it and we move on and let’s start fresh. So that’s really what we’ve done, and I think we’ve got a nice, young ball club. I think we are going to be OK.”
What made Dwight Howard change his mind last summer after he said in March he wanted to stay with the team?
“Dwight is a pleaser at heart. Deep down he really is a good guy. He had a lot invested here in eight years out of Central Florida and I think the pressure got to him. It was building and building and building. It was trade, trade and trade. As we got to the trade deadline, I think Dwight was just panic-stricken. Where was this all going to lead? The simplest way was just going to be sign this extension. I don’t think his agent had anything to do with it. I don’t think anyone would have advised him that because it was just a few months from free agency, and I just think the pressure was so great that the safest way to break it was just to sign the one-year extension and take the pressure off, and he made a little press conference and a little speech saying, ‘I love Orlando.’ Then, the next thing you know, this back injury takes place and then he disappears and we never saw him or hear from him again until the middle of the summer. We did meet with him and went out to see him and tried to convince him to stay. … It made no headway. It was not on his agenda and it turned out Brooklyn was his first choice. That all didn’t work, and finally the L.A. trade. Now he’s still a free agent after this year, so who knows what’s going to happen or where he is headed next?”
Why didn’t the deal for Dwight Howard with the Brooklyn Nets work out for Brook Lopez?
“I guess there were a lot of ins and outs with that. I just want to say that one of the fears with him was the tendency, as he got hurt, that he’s got a history with feet and ankle problems. He’s out again now. I think that was a big part of it, and then of course people say then, ‘Why not Andrew Bynum? Why didn’t you get Andrew Bynum?’ Well, I don’t think we’d be real happy with Andrew Bynum right now. If he were sitting here it would be a mess. We made the best deal we could with these other pieces that came from around the league, and I think it was the best deal we could have made based on potential of injury and what was best for our team.”