One source close to the situation told ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher that the Magic have promised Howard that they will add a quality player before Thursday’s deadline and that Howard can decide the fate of both GM Otis Smith and coach Stan Van Gundy at the end of the season if he signs an extension. Bucks swingman Stephen Jackson, frustrated in Milwaukee, is available and sources say he and Howard have talked about playing together.
Magic officials released a statement from Chief Executive Officer Alex Martins that read: “The only person(s) who have the final say on coaches and management is the Orlando Magic ownership.”
Beyond that, Martins would not comment. As he has before, Martins cited an agreement that he has made with Howard in which both parties pledged that they would not divulge the details of their conversations.
Martins has been talking directly with Howard and is going along with ownership’s desire to keep the franchise center for the remainder of the season, sources said. From a business perspective, it made sense for Martins to hold onto Howard until the last possible moment. He still sells tickets, sponsorships and, yes, banks victories that will get the Magic into the playoffs even if Howard is traded by Thursday. Nevertheless, there’s no misunderstanding from Howard’s camp that they will eventually sign with the Nets at the July 1 start of free agency, sources said.
In terms of global marketing and exposure, Howard is said to have been convinced by his representation that “there’s no place in the world he can do it like New York,” according to a person briefed on his strategy. Part of the end game would be a contract renewal with Adidas — a deal that, if Howard were in the New York market, is expected to exceed the approximately $200 million arrangement Derrick Rose recently signed with the shoe company.
Howard’s desire to land in Brooklyn defies the logic of several rival general managers and at least one prominent agent who continue to believe that the Dallas Mavericks should not be ruled out as a landing spot for both Howard and Williams after July 1. The Mavs would have to slash their payroll to the bone, ridding themselves of Brendan Haywood, Shawn Marion, Lamar Odom and Vince Carter in order to come close to enough room to sign two max players. But as one prominent agent said of Mavs owner Mark Cuban: “He’s a smart guy. He’ll figure it out.”
Don’t worry – everyone is. And its just going to get more confusing until either Howard is traded or the deadline passes.
(Andrew Melnick is the ESPNFlorida.com Magic and NBA Insider, co-host of the ESPN 1080 Insiders Show and publisher of Howard the Dunk. The Insiders Show can be heard Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST on AM 1080 in Orlando and on ESPNFlorida.com. You can follow Andrew on twitter here.)