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Magic might be ready to part with Howard

Seven months ago, center Dwight Howard and his agent told the Magic that Howard wanted a trade, preferably to the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets.

The Magic now faces a similar request, but there is one critical difference between the situations. This time, it appears the entire Magic hier­archy is prepared to trade the superstar.

After a face-to-face meeting Friday between Howard and new general manager Rob Hennigan in Southern California, the Magic has spoken to the Rockets, Lakers and Nets about a possible trade involving Howard, Yahoo Sports reported.

Hennigan and Magic CEO Alex Martins did not return messages for comment. Neither did Howard's agent, Dan Fegan.

Now, the situation could grow ugly. Either Howard or a member of his inner circle recently approached the players association to see if he might have a legal complaint against the Magic, ESPN reported. Howard reportedly has said team officials "blackmailed" him into agreeing to waive the early termination option in his contract that would have allowed him to become a free agent this summer.

The purpose of a complaint would be to eliminate his "opt-in," thus allowing the 26-year-old to become a free agent this summer. The union is considering whether to take up the issue, ESPN reported.

On March 14, during a conference call with Howard and his agent, Magic owner Rich DeVos told Howard the franchise would trade him before the trade deadline the following day if Howard didn't waive the early termination option.

In the early morning hours of March 15, after the team arrived in Orlando after a road game, Howard wanted to sign a document that would have waived the clause. But Otis Smith, the GM at the time, met Howard at the airport and told him to sleep on it.

Martins spent last season trying to get Howard to remain with the team. Smith, on the other hand, wanted to trade Howard in December.

Martins now maintains the team is prepared to trade Howard if he will not sign a long-term extension.

Most NBA observers and the Magic don't believe the Nets have enough assets. What also complicates the situation is that Howard has indicated he will not agree to an extension with any team other than the Nets.

Courting Top Guard: The Mavs will meet today with top free agent Deron Williams, ESPN.com reported. Later in the day, the Nets will make another pitch to try to keep their All-Star guard. The Nets can offer five years and nearly $100 million. The Mavs can go to four years and about $75 million. Williams, 28, hopes to make a decision by Wednesday.

Chasing Nash: The Raptors offered 38-year-old free agent point guard Steve Nash a three-year, $36 million contract, according to multiple media outlets. The Mavs, Knicks and Nets are reportedly also in competition against the Suns.

More in on Allen: Not only is the Heat after Ray Allen, but the Grizzlies, Hawks, Mavs and Clippers have shown interest in the 36-year-old Celtics shooting guard, according to various reports. Boston, which has reportedly reached a deal to keep Kevin Garnett, appears ready to offer two years at $12 million, ESPN.com reported, while Memphis has offered its full midlevel exception, worth $5 million, for two years. Miami can only do the mini-midlevel exception worth $3 million.

Max offer to Hibbert: The Blazers offered restricted free agent center Roy Hibbert of the Pacers a four-year, $58 million deal, SI.com reported. That dollar figure is the maximum allowable under the collective bargaining agreement. Hibbert, 25, is said to be considering signing the offer sheet. If he does, Indiana has three days to match.

Nets-Hawks talks: Brooklyn and Atlanta are discussing a deal that would send All-Star guard Joe Johnson to the Nets for the expiring contracts of Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow and Jordan Williams. However, the talks might hinge on Atlanta's insistence that Brooklyn include guard MarShon Brooks.

Paul balks: Point guard Chris Paul declined a three-year, $60 million extension from the Clippers, NBCSports.com reported.

Rockets after center: Houston reached agreement with Bulls backup center Omer Asik on a three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet, Yahoo Sports reported.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

.Fast Facts

Free agency is under way

Free agency opened at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, but players cannot officially sign contracts until July 11. These teams and players have verbally agreed to deals, according to various media outlets:

Celtics: Forward Kevin Garnett, three years, $34 million

Nets: Swingman Gerald Wallace, four years, $40 million

76ers: Center Lavoy Allen, two years, $6 million

Magic might be ready to part with Howard 07/01/12 [Last modified: Sunday, July 1, 2012 10:39pm]
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