Dwight Howard may have expressed his desire to remain in Orlando for the remainder of the season, but the trade rumors surrounding the reigning Defensive Player of the Year have yet to die down.
Team management has been off-put by Howard's remarks, and according to ESPN's Chris Broussard, the plan is to trade him by tomorrow's deadline unless he makes some sort of commitment to the team. Be it agreeing to not opt out after this season or signing a new deal, the Magic will not keep him for the rest of the season just because he has asked them to.
Once source even told Broussard that Howard was "dreaming" if he thought that the team would keep him for the rest of the season without some sort of guarantee that he would stay.
Teams like the New Jersey Nets and Los Angeles Lakers continue to engage the Magic in talks for the 6'11" All-Star's services, with just 24 hours remaining before tomorrow's deadline.
Between those two teams, the Lakers are definitely the ones with the better assets. The Nets have injured center Brook Lopez and draft picks, while the Lakers have a healthy Andrew Bynum. The oft-injured seven-footer is having a career season, averaging 17.6 points, 12.7 rebounds and even 2.1 blocks, as he has not missed one game due to injury this year.
However, Howard is not going to end up on the Lakers. As has been the case with all teams pursuing him, most executives will not finalize a trade for Howard unless he agrees to sign an extension first. As reported by Kurt Hellin of NBC Sports, Howard has already said that he would accept a trade to the Lakers, but would not sign a new deal with them.
Yet, according to Sam Anick of SI.com, the Lakers and Magic continue to discuss the former No. 1 pick, as Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak hopes that he will change his mind about signing with the Lakers long-term. These hopes are destined to be dashed, as Howard wants to be "the guy" wherever he plays, and Kobe Bryant is and will continue to be the alpha dog on the Lakers until he retires.
That all being said, it's a pretty safe bet that Howard will not be taking his talents west. As appealing as it would be for the Magic to trade him out of conference, Howard just doesn't meet the demands of the teams out west who would want him, at least not in a trading sense. On top of that, given his recent actions, he has made himself to look like a prima donna, and that alone is a team chemistry meltdown just waiting to happen.
Thus, it's time to count the Lakers out once and for all.