Dwight Howard has the Orlando Magic in a tough position. The center wants out of town, but he refuses to sign a contract extension with any team other than the Brooklyn Nets. His intransigence means the Magic can get only a fraction of what Howard is worth in return, as other interested teams hold back on their offers knowing Howard would leave in 2013.
In the NBA, lockout or not, all power still rests in the hands of star players, says Tom Ziller at SB Nation:
And the whole thing has worked for Howard: he's probably going to the Brooklyn Nets. Just like Carmelo Anthony went to the New York Knicks after waving his free agency around like a sword. And Chris Paul went to Los Angeles, one of his chosen cities. Players' preferences matter, because free agency matters. This has always been the case, and will always be the case because in the NBA having star players and having success are so closely linked.
From a larger prespective, Ziller says that the Howard situation is the latest happening to expose the lockout as an empty win for competitive balance:
The NBA limited superstars' power in free agency. The superstars and their agents adapted and wield their power in a different way. The result is the same: stars leave markets like New Orleans and Orlando for places like Los Angeles and New York. Well, I'm sure glad we fixed competitive balance last year.
The lockout was solely about money, and specifically the owners' desire for more of it. Everything else was a planted distraction designed to make the league's case smell better. We're watching the facade crumble to the ground in Orlando right now.
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