Last night, Dwight Howard re-requested a trade to the Brooklyn Nets. Rumors connecting Howard with the Nets have been swirling for months, so this was not exactly breaking news. What is breaking news is Howard's claim that he feels he was "blackmailed" by the team.
Specifically, he feels the team forced his hand when he waived his early termination clause and picked up the option for the final year on his contract on March 15.
[S]ince then he has grown increasingly disgruntled with the organization, even telling people close to him that he feels the Magic "blackmailed" him into signing the "opt-in" clause. Howard feels the Magic made promises that have not been kept to get him to sign.
Howard shared his feelings of being blackmailed by the Magic with the NBA Players Association last week, sources said. He — either himself or through his representatives — approached the union wondering if he might have a legal complaint against the club.
That legal complaint apparently arises out of Howard's interpretation of the Orlando Magic playing hardball with their star player who is trying to hold the team over a barrel. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Howard and his agent were on a conference call with, among others, Magic owner Rich DeVos the day before the NBA trade deadline was set to expire. After months of rumors and trade demands, DeVos informed Howard that if he did not waive his early termination clause, he would be traded.
"Boom. Blackmail," said a crazy person.
The point of all this nonsense is to somehow revoke his waiver of the early termination clause and decision to opt in to the final year of his contract—making him an unrestricted free agent as of today. Howard claims he was coerced to sign it because ownership "threatened" to trade him, the implication being that it would be to a team Howard did not want to be on—something well within Orlando's rights. It could even be argued that acknowledging their position on the matter as such was negotiating in good faith.
In the end, none of it matters. The waiver won't be revoked and Howard will still be traded because this is a ridiculous situation for the Magic and his talent is such that there will be teams lined up to get him. Whether it's the Nets or some other team for which he doesn't want to play, though, he has little say. That's the price you pay for being a highly paid professional athlete (and for waiving your contractually granted rights).
Image via Getty.
Sources: Dwight Howard wants trade [ESPN]
Report: Dwight Howard asks new Magic GM for a trade to the Nets [Orlando Sentinel]