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Magic finally put Howard mess behind them

The SportsXchange

The Dwight Howard saga has come to a merciful end.

He was set to be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers as part of a four-team deal that includes the Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers. The trade was first reported by ESPN.

The Orlando Magic, in their efforts to restart the franchise and end the Howard era, will receive conditional first-round picks from the other three teams. The Magic will send Howard to the Lakers along with point guard Chris Duhon and forward Earl Clark. Jason Richardson will go to Philadelphia.

The Magic will get Denver shooting guard Arron Afflalo, Denver forward Al Harrington, Philadelphia center Nikola Vucevic and Philadelphia forward Moe Harkless.

The deal will end Howard's eight-year stay in Orlando, granting his request to be traded, and signals a restart of the Magic franchise. It will mark the second time the team has lost a franchise center to the Lakers. The Magic previously lost center Shaquille O'Neal, who left as a free agent for the Lakers.

Howard had been requesting a trade since early last season. He had wanted to go to New Jersey, but the Magic never found a trade there they liked.

Howard had been consistent all summer in his trade request.

Howard, who waffled through last season about whether he wanted to be part of the team's future, kept burning bridges until the end, making it clear he wanted no part of the franchise anymore.

Howard had told Magic officials twice in face-to-face meetings that he wants to be traded to the New Jersey Nets, and he turned to the Magic fans with his latest pronouncement.

He sent word through a spokesman that would not be attending his annual basketball camp Aug. 13-14 in Orlando. It was originally scheduled for July 1-2, but he postponed it because he believed he was about to be traded.

A spokesman for the camp said Howard would remain in Los Angeles, where he has been doing rehabilitation on his back since his surgery April 20. He has been attending Dodgers baseball games and other events in L.A., also assuring others that he would be ready to play by training camp time.

Word that he would be bypassing his own camp was met with considerable criticism locally. Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi referred to him as "Dwight Coward."

Howard has one year remaining on his contract before becoming an unrestricted free agent.
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