Howard trade drama needs to end immediately

For once, Walt Disney World’s Space Mountain doesn’t have the most twists and turns in Orlando.

There’s another roller coaster in the city of theme parks that’s making people sick and confused and it’s the Dwight Howard soap opera.

As fans thought LeBron James’ “The Decision” two summers ago was a classless transition, it’s now merely a distant memory compared to Howard’s indecision. James’ drama was like a sudden, but quick kill to the brain for Cleveland Cavaliers’ fans.

However, Howard’s mess is a slow-killing stab to the heart. This is taking much longer than Carmelo Anthony’s feud with the Denver Nuggets in 2011, and is a lot more disorganized than the standoff between Stephon Marbury and the New York Knicks in 2009.

There’s really no set agenda in this fiasco. The only thing clear is Howard will not play in a Magic uniform come November, but even that was uncertain when Howard agreed to stay in Orlando for the rest of last season and next year when the trade deadline passed in February.

The rest is fuzzy. Orlando’s ability to trade Howard to a set destination all depends on where he is willing to sign his extension when he becomes a free agent next summer, but that’s exactly where the problem lies. Most teams in the NBA will not make a trade for Howard unless he commits to play more than one season, so the Magic does not have leverage to simply trade Howard to any suitor.

Last season, Howard said he would sign an extension with the Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers or the Dallas Mavericks, but then declared he’d only sign with Brooklyn at the start of the NBA offseason. Brooklyn seemed to be the likeliest suitor, until the Nets traded for Joe Johnson and re-signed Brook Lopez to a long-term deal. The Houston Rockets expressed strong interest and picked up numerous first-round draft picks to appeal to the Magic, but Howard has shown no interest to sign an extension.

Sources then told reporters Howard was again interested in re-signing with the Lakers and a deal in place between Orlando, Los Angeles and Cleveland seemed to be imminent, until Howard’s agent denied those reports.

And that’s just the abridged version to this fairy tale with no happy Disney ending, even for the lucky team that lands Howard before the season starts.

Prior to the trade chaos, Howard was portrayed as a kid, but rather a happy-go-lucky kid that had the innocence of a child. He was supposed to be the new-generation superstar alongside Kevin Durant that every fan would want to look up to. Instead, he’s now portrayed as the whiny kid who can’t make up his mind and he is spurning many other teams in the process as well.

It’s giving sports journalists a bad name also. Too many times anonymous “sources” have been used to track daily rumors, and far too many times have they turned out to be false. It’s not holding any reporter or team insider accountable and it’s another huge reason why these chain events have flowed so unpleasantly.

Yes, I’m a Lakers fan, but I don’t even want Howard as badly as the typical purple-and-gold fan. Andrew Bynum isn’t really that off from Howard’s level, and he has a better outlook at this point of his career. A Steve Nash-to-Howard connection would be exciting to say the very least, but is it worth it to go through all of this trouble just for that?

There’s just one thing I’m asking for this summer, let this disaster all end and let everyone else get on with their lives.

 

Reach the columnist at jnacion@asu.edu