With one day left before the NBA's trade deadline, it seems as if everyone is sick of Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard and the rumors swirling around him. Ironic, because the driving force behind Howard's wishy-washy attempt to dance around his obvious interest in signing with the New Jersey Nets this summer is the big man's hope of retaining his good-guy status. He wants to be liked, so badly, and the fallout is making him one of the league's least-liked players.
He's one of the best, though, which is why we can't stop talking about him. Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski came through with the perfect summation of Howard's plans on Tuesday, pointing out that he truly doesn't want a deal between Orlando and New Jersey because Howard doesn't want to cost the Nets assets that he'd prefer to play alongside. So much so that he'd give back in a potential sign-and-trade deal in order to save the Nets a few players this summer. That's a commitment to winning that, frankly, we applaud. It doesn't mean it hasn't soured just about everyone that's associated with Dwight, though, or made Orlando's successful season a living hell.
And the obvious is leaking into the work of those, on deadline, that are shaping the way we view the NBA. ESPN's mobile application called Orlando's overtime win over Miami on Tuesday Howard's "home finale," while the NBA store already started selling Nets jerseys with Dwight Howard's name on them before quickly stopping that practice. Meanwhile, the Magic's coaching staff is beyond frayed -- they want Dwight gone, not because the team would be any better in the short term, but because they'd like to gather some assets to work with beyond this season. And the whole affair -- and Howard's public disingenuous -- has become rather disheartening.
A bit of a bummer, for what is supposed to be a goofy time of year with plenty of rumors and wild trades to laugh at and/or get excited over.
Matt Moore of CBS Sports found the Nets shirt with Howard's name on it last night, a ridiculous notion for all involved. Not only is Dwight not going to be traded to the Nets before the trade deadline, he'll never be a "New Jersey Net," and he'll never wear those colors as the Nets change their team name and logo heading into Brooklyn in 2012-13. To have such poor oversight of your team's online apparel that potentially pre-printed shirts are going live on your official website is wrong in so many ways. To have it up even though it's been said for months that Howard likely isn't going to be shipped to New Jersey before the deadline is a major gaffe on the team's part.
Meanwhile, despite the poor personnel planning that has Howard wanting a fresh start with the Nets, the Magic have established themselves as a clear No. 3 in the Eastern Conference despite Dwight's sometimes diminished play and an iffy supporting cast. Coach Stan Van Gundy has done a brilliant job minimizing the team's flaws, but his exasperation is growing by the day.
Clearly sick of the whole affair, Van Gundy went on record before Tuesday night's win as not caring whether he's the coach of the Orlando Magic moving forward. Or, more specifically, that he doesn't "give a damn about getting fired."