|Dwight Howard reportedly thinks the Magic blackmailed him. (Getty Images)|
Dwight Howard has reportedly asked for a trade to the Nets, again, setting up every hope and dream for Brooklyn and a superstar future. But the backstory behind Howard's request is quite simply jaw-dropping. ESPN reports that Howard sought the advice of the NBPA last week, believing that the circumstances under which he signed his opt-out waiver for the 2012-2013 season to keep him with the Magic were definable as... wait for it... blackmail.
Yowza. From ESPN:
Howard picked up the option for the final year of his contract with Orlando on March 15. But since then, he has grown increasingly disgruntled with the organization, even telling people close to him that 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.
The goal of such a complaint would be to eliminate his "opt-in," thereby allowing Howard to become a free agent this summer.
I mean, wait, what?
The Orlando Sentinel has more details on the process behind the opt-in and what Howard may be referring to:
Howard would have become an unrestricted free agent on Sunday, but on March 15, Howard waived the early-termination clause in his contract.
The day before, he and Fegan were on a conference call with members of the DeVos family, including Magic owner Rich DeVos, in which DeVos told Howard he would be traded if he did not waive his early-termination option.
In the early morning hours on March 15, after the Magic's team charter landed in Orlando after a road game in San Antonio, Howard wanted to sign a document to waive his early-termination option.
But the Magic's general manager at the time, Otis Smith, advised Howard to sleep on it and give the matter further thought.
Howard arrived at the Magic offices at Amway Center around 11 a.m. that day and signed a document in which he waived the opt-out clause.
So Howard could feel that a threat to trade him where he did not want to be traded, which is within the team's rights, if he did no sign the opt-in, was interpretable as blackmail.
The Magic afforded him time to reconsider his options, to not sign the document, and chose to. He still could have been a free agent as of Sunday. It seems more and more like Howard only ever wanted to be traded to the Nets in order to re-sign in free agency and obtain the extra year under his Bird rights via the new CBA.
All that talk about "loyalty," from both sides, seems very circumspect right now.
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com will have more on this story soon.