If every report is to be believed, the situation in Orlando changes on an hour-to-hour basis. The Magic are resigned to trade Dwight Howard this offseason only in between their fits of utter infatuation, just as Howard pledges his loyalty to the Orlando Magic just moments before vowing to never play in the Amway Center again. It's all quite dramatic and apparently ever-changing, and based on Dwight Howard's personality and the ridiculous lengths the Magic seem willing to go in their attempts to keep him, I'm honestly not entirely sure that the fickle reporting is without basis. It's all too believable with this player and this team, a fact which says plenty about how both are conducting business these days.
The latest offering: according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, Howard—who is currently rehabbing a back injury—is already having signer's remorse about his decision to stick with Orlando for another season before becoming a free agent:
Howard regrets forgoing his early termination option on his 2012-13 contract, sources said, and wants a trade before next season. Nevertheless, the Nets become far less appealing should Williams leave in July as a free agent, so Howard's camp is applying pressure on Orlando to expedite a deal once it hires a new general manager.
In case you've been out of the loop, the Magic are in need of both the aforementioned general manager (after rightfully parting with Otis Smith) and a new head coach; as a pitiful subplot to the Howard mess, the Magic canned the tremendously talented (if also persistently harping) Stan Van Gundy, and if this latest report is indeed indicative of the current state of things, Orlando could be saying goodbye to one of the best players and one of the best coaches in the league within a few short months.
Howard may be the kind of player that a franchise can build around, but Van Gundy is the kind of coach that a team can build through. His system and concepts are cleverly constructed to maximize his team's strengths, and though his style apparently grated on a certain childish superstar, his approach and dedication were appreciated by the actual professionals in the Magic locker room.
J.J. Redick joined WYGM in Orlando to talk about, among other things, Van Gundy's departure, and went on to give a glowing review of the now unemployed coach (via Sports Radio Interviews):
I loved Stan and everybody knows Stan and I didn’t get off to the best of starts. My second year in the league I played zip. I think I played in 34 games and averaged eight minutes per game which basically means I played garbage time so I didn’t play at all that year and I was upset for about half the year and kind of towards the All-Star break, I realized this guy can really, really coach and his approach is about one thing and that one thing is winning. As a competitor, that is something I really respect. I respect Stan so much as a person and obviously all the stuff he does off-the-court. His honesty I actually love and I have so much respect for Stan and really just enjoy playing with him because of that approach, because his number one priority is winning and he doesn’t care about all the other B.S. He just wants to win.
It's a superstar's league, but considering the ordeal that the Magic went through just to get Howard to stick around for another season, why would they believe that this particular superstar was in any way committed to what they hoped to accomplish? And with Howard's future anything but certain, why would the Magic sacrifice one of the greatest assets they have?
The Magic have already voluntarily lost so much in their efforts to win back Howard's affections, but with each passing day and each passing report, things only seem to grow more and more absurd. The entire process has been as backward as it is baffling, and though it's difficult to imagine how Orlando might come out of this mess in anything resembling working order, here's a sincere hope that a rudderless franchise finds some sense of direction.