Free Agency 2012: Dwight Howard Hurts Magic's Leverage with Every Flip-Flop

Ethan Sherwood StraussNBA Lead WriterJuly 1, 2012

Unlike a lot of people, I don't see why the Orlando Magic should be Dwight Howard's concern. Players do not get bonus points for helping their former teams on the way out.

If you leave a franchise, why not cripple it? Any other team is your ostensible competition. Michael Jordan was lauded for wanting to beat everyone

The problem for Dwight Howard is that you can't decide on whether or not he actually wants to leave. In the meantime, he's making it difficult for his (perhaps) future team to do anything productive.

The recent (via ESPN) buzz is that Howard is now requesting a trade to Brooklyn, a team that would have gladly signed the big man had Dwight not opted in for another Magic year last trade deadline.

And then there's this, from the same Chris Broussard piece:

"He feels the Magic blackmailed him into signing the 'opt-in' clause. Howard shared his feelings of being blackmailed by the Magic with the NBA Players Association last week, sources said. He—either himself or through his representatives—approached the union wondering if he might have a legal complaint against the club." 

Well, this story is certainly staying ridiculous. This is a tough task for new Orlando GM Rob Hennigan. Dwight's fickle nature is on full display to everybody, which dims the prospect of trading him. If you deal a guy with one year left on the contract, the recipient would at least like to think that a re-signing route might be easy. Howard is flaunting the fact that he makes it hell on teams until the ink dries. 

There's also the matter of available options. Brooklyn is signing guys—guys Orlando might not want to trade for. Per ESPN, the Nets are inking Gerald Wallace and pursuing a trade for Joe Johnson (via NESN). These would both be hefty contracts that Hennigan might not want to take on.

And if Hennigan doesn't want any of those deals? Then what are the options, realistically? Howard has poisoned the market, and the only Orlando leverage is that they might trade him to a renter, a scenario that Dwight seems bizarrely scared of. 

Meanwhile, in the background, Brooklyn is spending the kind of money that would eliminate them from the Dwight sweepstakes when Howard's deal is up next year. Don't be surprised if these two parties are stuck in this terrible marriage going forward.