|This is his free agency dance. (Getty Images)|
When reports surfaced Thursday that Dwight Howard had decided he would re-sign with the Lakers if traded to L.A., there was a lot of skepticism. Howard hasn't exactly been the most stable of mind when it comes to this decision, flipping back and forth on whether to sign his opt-out waiver before finally committing to the Magic for another year (and then requesting a trade again within two months).
CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reported Thursday night that the trade talk remains largely where they've been for months: stuck.
And as far as publicly, the Howard camp isn't changing its stance. Howard wants the freedom of choice and plans to exercise his right to it. From ESPN.com:
"Dwight's position has remained unchanged since the end of this past season," said Dan Fegan of LaGardere Unlimited. "He fully intends to explore free agency at the end of next season, regardless of what team trades for him, including Brooklyn."
OK, so there's some double speak that still has yet to sink in with most media and fans, so let's go through it one more time.
The only way to assure the most money possible for Howard is for him to enter free agency. The years and raise limit on an extension makes it a virtual impossibility that he would sign such a thing instead of opting out and then likely re-signing with whatever team has his bird rights at the time, granting him a fifth year vs. the four possible with another team.
So he's going to enter free agency no matter what. Deron Williams took exactly two meetings this summer, and were an extension in any way the logical choice financially, he likely would have taken it.
But the key here is whether he'll test free agency.
It's wholly different for Howard to enter free agency with the specific goal of acquiring the five-year max-deal provided under the CBA, and a much different one for him to "test" free agency. If Howard starts taking meetings with the Lakers having no leverage outside of the fifth year, things could get bad. The sign-and-trade option that allowed LeBron James and Chris Bosh to get their max-max deals in 2010 goes away in 2013. So Howard will not be able to join the Nets under any circumstances once he hits free agency.
Which is exactly what Fegan could want by issuing that release.
Howard's camp are desperate to get him to Brooklyn as they lose leverage with Brooklyn having committed so much money and so many years to so many players, and these other offers put more pressure. The only way that Howard can force his way to Brooklyn is if there are no other optios, because Rob Hennigan took a look at what the Nets coud offer and if he's sane, threw up in a trash can. So Howard has to eliminate the interest from other suitors, or Howard may be forced to cave.
The Dwightmare drags on.