Monday, July 2, 2012

NBA Player movement : Howard to re-sign with only one team ; more news inside

Source : Yahoo Sports

Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard told Yahoo! Sports he will not re-sign with a team outside his preferred list that trades for him, and emphatically denied that he ever used the term "blackmail" to describe how Magic officials convinced him to waive his early termination option.

As the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and other teams prepare possible trade offers for him, Howard told Yahoo! by phone that, "There’s only one team on my list and if I don’t get traded there, I'll play the season out and explore my free agency after that."

Howard wouldn’t specify the team, but multiple league sources believe that it is the Brooklyn Nets.

Howard also denied an ESPN report that he had told people Orlando Magic officials had “blackmailed” him into forgoing the early termination option on his contract that ultimately cost him his free agency this summer.

"I never used the word blackmail in reference to any of my dealings with the Magic," Howard said. “I never said that. It’s defamatory and it’s inaccurate. I know what blackmail means and any report that I used the term incorrectly is inaccurate."

Howard met with new Magic general manager Rob Hennigan on Friday in Los Angeles, and said he told Hennigan of his desire to be traded. However, Howard insisted he was merely repeating a position he had made clear to Magic officials since waiving his ETO in March.

"This was not the first time [that I asked for trade]," Howard said. "I communicated this to [Magic president] Alex [Martins] and [former general manager] Otis [Smith] way before Friday that I wanted to be traded – months before this meeting with Rob Hennigan. That was all way before Stan [Van Gundy] got fired."

Howard is rehabilitating from back surgery, and wouldn’t speculate on whether he could be prepared to return for the start of the regular season. Howard had a herniated disk repaired, and sizable fragments of bone removed on April 20. Before the diagnosis that Howard would require season-ending surgery late in the Magic's regular season, Howard had heard the suggestions inside and outside the organization that perhaps he wasn’t truly injured, that maybe he had bailed on his team.

"I’ve never faked anything," Howard told Yahoo! Sports. "I’d never fake a back injury to not play for my team. I played a lot of games in a lot of pain, and there were times that I was crying in the locker room afterward because I was so seriously hurt. But I kept fighting. I’ve played with a cracked sternum in the past, and played with a lot of different [injuries].

"This time, I couldn't play. Regardless of what people say, 'Hey, you’re Superman,' I'm a man. I bleed. And I have bones, too. And something happened that I couldn’t control.

"It really upset me that anyone would say that I was doing something out of spite for my team or my city. I have the utmost respect for the Magic organization, for the people of Orlando. Everything I did was from my heart, and I would never do anything to betray my city."

Howard discussed something else that had become synonymous with his season, and that was the bizarre April 5 shootaround in Orlando when his former coach, Stan Van Gundy, told reporters that Orlando management had informed him that Howard had requested his firing. The video of Howard walking into a scrum of reporters, unaware of what Van Gundy had said, went viral. Ultimately, it became a flashpoint of criticism toward Howard.

When asked if he felt set up, Howard told Yahoo! Sports: “I did. I had no clue about what had happened, about what he had said. I wanted to clear it up that this was not what was happening behind closed doors, and I stepped into something that I didn’t know how to handle. It hurts me to this day, thinking about how people were saying these things about me, calling me, "a coach killer," and all this crazy stuff. It upset me, it hurt a lot."

Nuggets keep Miller [Yahoo Sports]

The Denver Nuggets have reached agreement on a three-year contract to re-sign free-agent point guard Andre Miller, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Miller had sought a contract that would pay him an average of $3 million a season.

Miller, 36, averaged 9.7 points and 6.7 assists for the Nuggets last season while primarily backing up Ty Lawson. He has been one of the league's most durable players, appearing in 1,044 of a possible 1,048 games in his 13-year career.

Miller is in his second stint playing for the Nuggets and coach George Karl. He came to the Nuggets before the start of last season in a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Asik signs offer sheet from Rockets [Yahoo Sports]

The Houston Rockets have reached agreement on a three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet with Chicago Bulls free-agent center Omer Asik, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Asik will sign the offer sheet on July 11 and the Bulls will have three days to match or lose him to the Rockets.

This is a steep price for Chicago to pay for its backup center, and the Rockets knew it.

All three years on the contract are fully guaranteed, a source said.

The Rockets have tried to acquire Asik in a trade for over a year, but finally forced the Bulls to have to commit to more than $8 million annually to keep him. The contract is back-loaded, and Asik's salary in the third season of the deal would hit Chicago's books at $15 million.

Asik plays behind starter Joakim Noah. Despite limited offensive skills, Asik's defense, rebounding and toughness make him a favorite of Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.

A native of Turkey, Asik just completed his second NBA season. He averaged 3.1 points and 5.3 rebounds in 14.7 minutes a game last season.

Indiana Pacers restricted free agent Roy Hibbert reportedly has been offered a maximum contract by the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.

Hibbert has received a four-year, $58 million offer sheet from the Trail Blazers, according to

The report said Hibbert, 25, is leading toward taking the Blazers deal after the Pacers initially did not offer a maximum deal to keep him. The Pacers have three days to match the deal.

An third unnamed team also has offered the 7-foot-2 All-Star center a maximum deal, SI reported.

The NBA free agency negotiating period began Sunday. Contracts cannot be signed until July 11.

The Blazers had a are 28-38 season. It is expected Hibbert would become a power forward next to Blazers All-Star center LaMarcus Aldridge.

Hibbert averaged 12.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and two blocks a game last season.

In a potential move that would cripple their aspirations of eventually acquiring Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, the Brooklyn Nets are engaged in talks with the Atlanta Hawks on a deal for All-Star swingman Joe Johnson, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The Nets' plan would be to pair Johnson and point guard Deron Williams to create an All-Star backcourt. No deal is close, and the Hawks and Nets were both discussing deals on several fronts, sources said. Hawks officials have told teams they have multiple trade possibilities.

While the Nets were discussing the possible deal for Johnson, they also were deep in talks with the Houston Rockets about acquiring power forward Luis Scola for a package of expiring contracts and a future draft pick, league sources said. There was a sense on both sides that a deal could be imminent, but it eventually hit a snag and fell apart, sources said. Unless the two sides completed the deal before midnight ET on Saturday, a potential trade would have to wait until July 11 for completion, when the league lifts its embargo for transactions.

If the Nets don't make a deal for Johnson, they're strongly considering a significant offer to Memphis Grizzlies free-agent shooting guard O.J. Mayo, sources said.

Multiple league sources believe the Nets are losing hope they can pry Howard out of Orlando, and are working diligently to construct a roster to keep Williams that doesn't necessarily give them the financial flexibility to absorb Howard when he can become a free agent next year. If the Magic do eventually make a deal for Howard – something that they haven't shown an inclination yet to do with the Nets under new general manager Rob Hennigan – the Nets would be stocked with the kind of expensive veteran contracts that wouldn't appeal to Orlando's blueprint for rebuilding.

Williams has hoped to play with Howard in Brooklyn, but Orlando has shown no immediate intent to move its All-Star center, who has one year left on his contract, sources said. Williams has narrowed his free agent choices to Brooklyn and the Dallas Mavericks. 

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