Dwight-Howard-to-Bulls rumor takes hit

During Memorial Day weekend, Dwight Howard, whose Orlando Magic got bounced in the first round by the Atlanta Hawks, spent some time making it clear he’s staying in Orlando — at least for now.

Of course, this is because of Howard’s impending 2012 free agency. He hasn’t came out and said he wants to leave Orlando, though. But, then again, he hasn’t said he’s staying there long-term, either.

At a barbeque held for fans on Monday, Howard spoke to the Orlando Sentinel’s Josh Robbins. Obviously, the topic of conversation was the 6-11 center’s status with Orlando.

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

“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.”

Ah, another shot at the original Superman (of the NBA).

Not sure you can turn Orlando into New York, Chicago or Los Angeles, but it’s worth a try. But, really, who wouldn’t want to play with Howard?

It’s also interesting that Howard’s trying his best to show Orlando Magic fans that he’s not, to put it in straight terms, LeBron James.

After LeBron fled Cleveland to join the Miami Heat, the discussion has been the same with Howard and the Magic. But Howard is clearly worried about his legacy, at least the way he’s sounding. Though it’s awfully similar to the way LeBron talked in the years leading up to his 2010 free agency.

Said Howard: “As of right now, I’m a part of the Orlando Magic and I plan to be here.”

Added Howard: “And I want the Magic to do whatever they can to make sure that we can
get our city behind us. That’s the only thing that I want to happen:
just to have the city behind me and the support of our fans. I never
said I was leaving. I never, ever thought about leaving. That’s
basically where my head is right now. I never said anything to them [the
Magic] about what my plans were because that’s not what I’m focused on
right now.”

Key words: Right now.

Dwight Howard.jpg

Another rough year in Orlando, and Howard may be looking to change addresses. But he’s saying all the right things, for now.

We don’t know what Howard is thinking, but if he really wanted to shun the naysayers about his loyalty towards staying in Orlando, he could simply sign a contract extension.

Speaking of which, Orlando’s Local 6 Sports Director David Pingalore is reporting that the Magic and Howard are working on a two-year extension.

Pingalore writes: “Magic center Dwight Howard spent the
holiday weekend working on signing a two-year extension with the team,
sources told Local 6 Sports Director David Pingalore late Monday. Sources said the deal is all but signed by Howard.”

What’s the hold up? Howard is a max contract player. He’s either going to sign it or not — right?

But if Howard is going to sign it under the current CBA — meaning more money — he must do it before June 30, when it expires.

Howard has two years on his contract, though he’s eligible to opt out of the deal after next season. He wants a winner in Orlando., but that will be awfully tough to build — next season, at least — for General Manager Otis Smith.

Said Howard: “I just want to become better. I want to win a
championship. I just felt bad losing in the first round and I just want
to make sure that our team has a chance to win a championship next
year.”

Good luck. With Gilbert Arenas on your team, chances are slim.

That brings us to the Bulls. They’ve reportedly been interested in making a deal with Orlando for Howard. Who isn’t?

The Bulls’ best bet at getting Howard is probably a package around Joakim Noah, who’d give Orlando a center to replace Howard.

Taj Gibson and some filler would join Noah, as well. But the Bulls would likely give anyone on their roster — besides Derrick Rose, of course — for Howard.

And no, the Magic don’t want any part of Carlos Boozer’s hefty contract, which still has four more seasons remaining. Although, the Magic could drop Gilbert Arenas’ deal on the Bulls for Boozer. But who knows.

While Howard’s I’m-staying-in-Orlando-for-now-no-matter-what-people-say stance is a bit premature — as anything can change (once again, look at LeBron) — it’s something. If you’re an Orlando Magic’s fan, you take it.

And if you’re the Bulls, it’s a hit to trade talks, if there are any. It’s highly unlikely Howard “takes his talents” to the Windy City, but after the Bulls lost in the Eastern Conference finals, Chicagoans are dreaming.

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