Dwight Howard reaffirmed his desire to stay with the [Orlando] Magic, but told NBA.com on Monday that he will definitely become a free agent rather than sign an extension in the next year and also left open the possibility he would reconsider his future in Orlando if the team does not win the title next season.
Speaking during a break at the adidas Eurocamp as part of a tour of the continent for the shoe company, Howard joked with reporters at a news conference and appeared in good spirits.
In a one-on-one interview afterward, though, he made it clear he is not happy with the collective personality of Orlando’s roster and that changes need to be made. The same message, he said, was delivered to owner Rich DeVos and CEO Bob Vander Weide in a meeting last week that included Howard sharing thoughts on everything from personnel to fan involvement and arena atmosphere at home games.
“I want to win a championship,” the All-Star center said. “I think the owners have to really know that. That’s been my goal and my mission since I’ve been in the NBA — to win a championship. I don’t have side goals or agendas. My main goal is to win a championship. I want to have 14 other guys who feel the same way.”
Asked if the Magic have that now, he said, “It’s off and on. Sometimes guys are there whole-heartedly and then sometimes I’ve had teammates allow people getting in their ears and things like that effect the way that they play and approach the game.”
Howard said he did not tell DeVos and Vander Weide specific roster moves he wanted to see.
For those that have been following this story closely, none of this is news.
It makes no sense for Dwight Howard to sign a two-year extension (the longest extension he’s allowed to sign right now) with the Orlando Magic right now, given the state of the roster. Howard is motivated by winning, and right now the only thing the Magic have proven to Howard is that they’re capable of doing nothing more than losing to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. As such, Howard has every right to let the chips fall where they may, and see whether or not Orlando is capable of reconstructing an elite team and championship contender around him.
Howard’s message is clear — it’s championship or bust.
The wild card is the collective bargaining agreement. Until the players and owners can resolve that issue, there’s not much the Magic can do right now with regards to signing free agents, trading players, and what not. However, when the new CBA is ratified, Orlando needs to get to work. And fast.
Time is of the essence, and Howard has made it known that he’s not going to wait around for the Magic forever. The clock is ticking.