As if Magic fans need another suitor to woo Dwight Howard, it seems Europe has entered the fray. Well, maybe not entirely.
Dwight Howard is back on the road touring the world as he always seems to do during the summer, and like several all stars he is getting asked the big question with the NBA now in lockout: Would you consider playing in Europe until the lockout ends. Deron Williams has reportedly reached an agreement with Turkey's Besiktas to play this year until the NBA's labor issue is resolved and several superstar players have expressed some interest in going overseas.
Howard may be joining that list perhaps. Here is what he told Malaga Hoy in Spain in response to the question: "Would Europe be an option if there is no agreement by January 7?" (translated by Google Translate): "I would have to think seriously about it. It is not a decision to be made in haste."
It does not appear Howard would be willing to sign on the dotted line now. But if this lockout continues to drag I am sure Howard along with several other marquee players will consider playing in Europe for the remainder of the season more and more. It is something of a fallback plan for sure.
Part of me though reads this and sees the same strategy Howard is employing with his future. He is hedging his bets and leaving all options open. He does not want to say no... not until he is sure at least.The paper asked Howard specifically about his first trip to Malaga, a city on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, and he had nothing but nice things to say. Howard is pretty good at public relations in that regard. Unicaja Malaga was also where Fran Vazquez got his professional start and where he was playing when the Magic drafted him (just for reference).
The paper asked him specifically about potentially playing with Unicaja, to which he deflected pretty well by saying he does not know, but he has heard good references about the team and the city.
Howard like many of the players in the league simply just wants to play. He said he hopes the lockout will end quickly so everyone can get back to work.
The paper could not resist asking Dwight about his more immediate future, asking (translated by Google Translate): "Right now, your future is in the air. Have you already decided which team you will play for next season?"
"My future... (laughs). I do not know yet," Howard said (translated by Google Translate). "First, I would like to resolve the lockout. I am well in Orlando, it has been my first home. I have spent many years on the team, but do not know if I will continue safely certainly." (I am not so sure about the "safely" translation, if you know a better translation for "con seguridad" please let me know!) (Thanks to @el_chocclair for a more idiomatic translation!)
This could be good news for Minnesota fans. When asked which Spanish player he would like to play with most Howard responded Ricky Rubio, the Timberwolves' rookie point guard and YouTube sensation.
"He is a great player," Howard (again, translated by Google Translate) said of Rubio. "He is young with a long career ahead of him. He is a team player. He made a good decision coming to the NBA. He will have to adjust at first, but I am sure he will succeed with the Timberwolves."
Yeah, I am not seeing that connection happening either (unless it is in Orlando... and that is pretty unlikely too).
The thing to take away from this is Howard is not closing any doors. He seems unlikely to head to Europe unless the lockout lasts into 2012.
Photos via DayLife.com.