As appealing trade scenarios for his franchise player shrink, Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan's mission of beginning to build trust with All-Star center Dwight Howard was met with an unmistakable response in a Wednesday meeting: Howard continues to rule out a future with the Magic, and wants a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers before the start of the season, sources told Yahoo! Sports.
"Dwight remained unchanged in his want to be traded," a source with knowledge of the meeting said. "And he has no intention of signing another contract extension with Orlando."
Without a deal that would deliver him to the Lakers in the near future, sources said Howard wants Henningan to revisit trade talks with the Brooklyn Nets in January, when center Brook Lopez is eligible to be traded. If deals don't surface with the Lakers or Nets, Howard plans to sign with the Dallas Mavericks as a free agent in the summer of 2013.
While the Lakers and Nets won't have the salary cap space to sign Howard, nor the opportunity to execute a sign-and-trade deal under new CBA rules, the Mavericks will be flush with cap space next summer. Mavs owner Mark Cuban plans to make a run at Howard, and potentially another star player, to join Dirk Nowitzki.
For Howard, that threat continues to make it difficult for Orlando to attract trade suitors willing to unload valuable assets for a superstar likely to be a rental player for only several months. Despite the Houston Rockets' determination to trade for Howard and convince him to stay long term, Howard's camp has repeatedly warned Houston owner Les Alexander and GM Daryl Morey that they will lose Howard to rival Dallas in free agency next July, sources said.
Hennigan and Orlando assistant Scott Perry flew to Los Angeles on Wednesday and met with Howard and his representatives for about two hours. When told that the Magic had tried to honor his desire to be moved, Howard probed Hennigan on why the GM hadn't accepted deals that could've sent him to the Nets or Lakers before those teams used valuable trade assets to acquire Joe Johnson and Steve Nash respectively.
Hennigan has insisted that no proposed deal has been satisfactory and the franchise has shown some willingness to take its time to see what offers develop. Nevertheless the rental market for Howard is lean and the Lakers used two first-round picks in the sign-and-trade deal for Nash. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston are willing to be third-team trade partners for the Magic and Lakers in deals that would send them All-Star center Andrew Bynum.
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