Magic CEO meets with Dwight Howard, hopes to keep him
The relationship between Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic appears to be improving — at least a bit.
Magic chief executive officer Alex Martins said he sat down with the All-Star center Monday morning, a day after Howard said he hadn’t spoken to general manager Otis Smith since asking the team to be traded,.
Martins said he remains confident things still can be done to convince Howard that Orlando can build a championship team.
“We have to continue to do what’s right for this organization to win a championship and the first piece of that is keeping Dwight,” Martins said at the team’s annual media day. “And we’re doing everything we can to ensure that we do that. All I would say from a fan’s standpoint is I believe, I want them to believe and I think we need to continue to show Dwight that we do want him here. ... Our fans need to make sure that we show him the love.”
Then, after speaking at length for two straight days about all that was wrong with management, Howard said that the door remains open for him to re-sign.
“As of a right now, I have on a Magic uniform. ... If it’s meant for me to stay here, then I’ll stay,” Howard said. “I love this city and there’s no place I’d rather be than Orlando. I just want to make sure that we have the right things here so we can win a championship. And I’m all about change. If you’re willing to change and willing do what it takes to win, then you’ve got me.
“You only get one time around the track. There’s no reset button. You don’t want to miss out on any opportunity to win,” Howard added. “You gotta do what it takes to win.”
Howard can opt out of his current contract in July 2012. Smith has previously given his agent, Dan Fegan, permission to speak with New Jersey, Dallas and the Los Angeles Lakers about possible trades.
Martins said that despite Howard’s claim Sunday that none of his input has been taken into account by management in regards to what changes he’d like to see the Magic make, that the trade for Boston big man Glen “Big Baby” Davis was one they did do.
“It’s a conversation,” Martins said. “It’s not a be all, end all. And I do think that Dwight’s input is important and we’re gonna continue to solicit Dwight’s input. But, the final decisions rest on Otis. Otis is the head of this basketball operation. And he is the only one that knows how all the pieces will fit together properly. And he can solicit input from anyone and he will solicit input.
“But at the end of the day, it’s Otis’ decision to make,” he said.
A trade of forward Brandon Bass for Davis and guard Von Wafer was officially announced Monday afternoon, a few hours after both took pictures in their new Magic uniforms. Shooting guard Jason Richardson, who was an unrestricted free-agent, also re-signed.
Davis, who played against Howard on the AAU circuit growing up and opposite him in the 2004 McDonald’s All-American Game, said he understands the kind of passion Howard has in this situation.
“We’ve talked and I understand where he’s coming from,” Davis said.
Asked if he thinks he can talk Howard into staying, Davis was jokingly optimistic.
“Probably can,” he said. “I’ll probably have crumpets and tea tomorrow and hopefully talk things out and see what’s up.”
As far as what happens in the meantime, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy admitted that it’s difficult to do some things on the court with the uncertainly around Howard. But he said his approach to the day to day won’t change while it’s being resolved.
“There’s all kinds of things that can be distractions in this league,” Van Gundy said. “There are always distractions and there’s always somebody who’s a little bit unhappy for different reasons. So this is nothing new. With every NBA team this year, I guarantee you nobody’s got a team on the floor where all 12 or 13 guys are happy all the time and there are no distractions.
“There’s always some distraction,” he said. “And ours might just be a little bit bigger than some.”