Orlando Magic CEO: Still Time to Convince Dwight Howard to Stay

by March 02, 2012

Dwight Howard says that he’s been in touch with the Magic front-office about his future plans, though the lines of communication remain murky. And according to team CEO Alex Martins, there’s still a chance that Howard can be convinced to stay. From the Orlando Sentinel: “We have a couple of weeks until the trade deadline, which is a critical point on the calendar to determine how we can move forward together,’ Martins said of the ongoing Dwight saga. ‘Our conversations with Dwight continue, and I feel good about the conversations we’ve had. … I’ve said all along our reason for not trading Dwight at the beginning of the season is that time would be on our side one way or another. Time would be on our side in the fact that we could work with Dwight to address his needs and ultimately convince him to stay. Or time would work on our side in that if Dwight made the decision that he didn’t want to stay, we would have more time to talk to other teams about what trade possibilities exist.’ However, with the March 15 trade deadline bearing down, time is running out. Martins was with the team 16 years ago when another franchise big man walked out of Orlando and he is doing everything in his power to make sure that doesn’t happen again. ‘We’re certainly work ing toward not having a situation like we had with Shaq – a player walking away without any compensation to the team,’ Martins said. ‘There are some advantages this time around that weren’t there before (when Shaq walked). This team can pay its own free agent more than anybody else with the additional year and the additional annual increases.’ Still, Dwight holds all the cards. He can pretty much nix any trade he wants and walk away as a free agent at the end of the season. He’s not obligated to sign a long-term extension with any trade partner the Magic may identify. And, let’s face it, if Dwight doesn’t commit to signing an extension with a team, said team is not going to give up anything of value to acquire him. Even though Dwight hasn’t publicly altered his pre-season request to be traded, Martins still talks as if keeping Howard is a real possibility and the Magic’s No. 1 goal. ‘We’ve continued to to have a daily dialogue with Dwight since December,’ Martins said. ‘He feels that he is being heard as far as what his goals are. And, by the way, the goals are the same: We both want to win. That’s what he continues to tell us and we continue to tell him. We both want to win a championship and we’ve been working toward that for many, many years. I think the proof is in the pudding because of what we’ve done and what we’ve invested to try and win. We’ll continue those dialogues over the next couple of weeks and hopefully we’ll get to a point where we both believe that the best place to win a championship is Orlando and we’ll work out the details to make sure Dwight is a part of that for years to come.'”