Nothing has changed with Dwight Howard.
He is committed to the Magic for the 2011-12 season. He wants to stay in Orlando for the long haul, but does not want to stay if the chance of winning a championship continues to decrease.
That two-year extension is on the table. But Howard still will not sign it. He has every intention right now of becoming a free agent in the summer of 2012.
Nothing has changed.
All Howard did in his one-on-one interview with NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper was reveal a little bit more on what it is going to take to keep Howard in Orlando (something he said he is leaning toward doing anyway).
"I want to win a championship," Howard 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."
Howard said he met with owner Rich DeVos and CEO Bob Vander Weide before beginning his European promotional tour. The meeting consisted of discussion of everything from personnel to arena atmosphere and the fans -- something I know personally Howard has openly complained about in an open locker room (and while it was just me and Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post in the locker room at the time, he knew the media was listening).
Yes, everything is open and it is a good sign for the Magic that Howard is trying to be involved and let DeVos know what it will take to keep him in Orlando. DeVos has certainly invested the cash to win a title and is getting nowhere near the return on investment he should for the second-highest payroll in the league.
I do not think we can question the commitment of ownership to win a championship. The players currently on the roster? Well, that might be another, more distressing issue.
"It's off and on," Howard said of his teammates' commitment to winning a championship. "Sometimes guys are there whole-heartedly and then sometimes I've had teammates allow people getting in their ears and things like that affect the way that they play and approach the game."
That is certainly not an encouraging quote to hear from your team's superstar and captain. The guys around Howard have to want it as much as he does, as the Mavericks supporting cast around Dirk Nowitzki just showed in winning the championship.
Howard said he did not make any specific personnel requests. It would be kind of moot to do so considering we have yet to have a collective bargaining agreement even in place. But Howard is making it clear the kind of player he wants on the Magic in 2011-12:
"I just told them, 'We've got to have guys who are going to play hard 48 minutes and who are going to battle the other team, who are going to fight night in and night out for a championship.'"
A seemingly simple request. Of course getting those guys will be a problem unless something just clicks with the guys still on the roster -- Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas especially.
Things are starting to look bleak and I know Howard-Cooper's article raised some consternation among Magic fans as it made its way into everyone's RSS and Twitter feeds. It was yet another seemingly contradictory statement Howard has given about his future.
As things move forward though, it is important to remember one important thing from Howard to hold on to: He wants to stay in Orlando. That remains his first option.
"That's the truth," Howard said. "I don't have to keep things calm or anything. This is how I really feel in my heart. A lot of people want to see me go other places, but I want to stay in Orlando. I have a beautiful home there. There are beautiful people down there. My son is in Orlando. He's getting a lot older and I want to be there to see as many moments as I can of his life."
Howard's main goal is to win a championship, he has made that abundantly clear. And while Orlando is his first option, he is not going to play anywhere he does not have a chance to win a title.
And so, nothing has changed, no matter how much you want to read into his comments.
Photos via DayLife.com.