Howard Now Favors Orlando?


This is going to be an ever-evolving story and an ever-changing rank ordering of cities, teams and locations. The hand-wringing from Magic fans will not stop until it is finally settled one way or another. Keep reading between the lines folks and keep your ear close to the ground.

The next big revelation? It comes from the same guy who first set off a mini-firestorm by suggesting Dwight Howard favored a big market like Los Angeles (Lakers) or New Jersey/Brooklyn late during the regular season.

The Dwight is turning once again.

Dwight Howard confirmed what Ric Bucher reported in a chat this week, telling Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

“I’m not trying to run behind nobody like Shaq or be behind somebody else.

“I want to start my own path and I want people to follow my path and not just follow somebody else’s path. I want to have my own path, and I want to start that here in Orlando. But I can’t do it alone. Not only do I need the right teammates, but I need the city behind me. That’s the only way it’s going to get done. We can change this small city that we have — this small market that we have — and we can make it a big market.”

That is probably about as close as you will get to Howard saying his plans for the future.

Howard continued to reiterate that he is playing for the Magic this year and has no other focus beside that. It is the party line he has given since the end of the season pretty much. And all you can expect him to say.

Bucher was the first to state his belief Orlando was No. 1 on Howard’s list in print. And remember, this is the guy who started the Dwight-to-LA rumors. In his most recent chat, Ric Bucher said he believes Orlando has pulled ahead to the top of his wish list for free agency.

Eliot from Brooklyn asked: “Ric, a story on Buss came out saying that Bynum is ‘untouchable’ in trade talks. From what you’ve heard, is this true? If so, does this mean the Nets would be the likely suitor for Dwight?”

To which Bucher responded: “Lakers have slipped on Dwight’s list for reasons beyond that. I’d rank his preferences in this order: Orlando, Dallas, NJ, Lakers. But for Orlando to keep him, they’re going to have to make some serious deals, ones that I’m really doubtful they can pull off.”

The Jim Buss statements about Andrew Bynum being untouchable certainly piqued the interest of Magic fans who figured the only way Howard could force his way to Los Angeles was through a sign and trade. Bynum certainly figured to the guy Orlando would get in return.

Still it is good news for Orlando, but far from anything definite. As I like to constantly remind everyone, there is still a long way to go before anything resembling finality will become apparent.

Bucher is right to point out Orlando has to show improvement and inch closer to winning a championship to stay in the ball game. That is ultimately what Howard cares about. He wants to win. If he cannot do that in Orlando, he will leave. Plain and simple.

But, as I have always argued, Orlando is some place Howard wants to be. You may have missed it this Memorial Day, but Dwight held a a bar-b-q at Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake. It seemed well attended and like a good time complete with water guns and a football even. Howard is still very much enjoying his time in orlando even with the set back on the floor. Or at least it seems that way.

Howard’s manager, Kevin Samples, certainly tried to say the bar-b-q event was a clear sign of Howard’s ultimate intentions.

“He does not want to leave Orlando,” Samples said. “You don’t do stuff like this and be ready to go. If you’re ready to go, you go ahead and go and start taking meetings and stuff like that. This is home for us. It’s been seven years. We want to stay here.”

Here I go reading between the lines again. Take what you will from all these statemets. To me, it is a revelation of nothing new.

Howard cares most about winning… and he would love for Orlando to be that place.

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