Three weeks after leaving Orlando in a blockbuster trade that sent him to the Los Angeles Lakers, the All-Star center took out a full-page ad in Sunday’s Orlando Sentinel to express his appreciation for the city and the chance to play there.
“To play the game of basketball in the NBA is a blessing and to have had the opportunity to play before the Orlando fans for eight years was truly a privilege and an honor,” Howard says in the advertisement, which according to a story on the newspaper’s website appears on Page C7.
“Words cannot express the love that I have for Orlando. With your support we have done great things in this city from hanging banners to impacting our youth.”
“Although my career with the Magic has come to a close, my love for the city and the people that make it beautiful will never end.”
The complex four-team deal with the Lakers on August 10 left Orlando with new additions in guard Aaron Afflalo and forward Al Harrington from Denver, forward Moe Harkless and center Nikola Vucevic from Philadelphia, and forward Josh McRoberts and guard Christian Eyenga from the Lakers.
The Lakers received Howard, guard Chris Duhon and forward Earl Clark from Orlando. The Magic also traded guard Jason Richardson to Philadelphia.
The Magic also will get a second-round draft pick from Denver next year, a first-round pick from either Denver or New York in 2014, a conditional first-round pick from Philadelphia and a conditional second-round pick from the Lakers in 2015, and a conditional first-round pick from the Lakers in 2017. Orlando also will have a $17.8 million trade exception to use over the next year.
It remains uncertain when Howard will make his Lakers debut after season-ending back surgery in April and whether he will be returning to the L.A. after this season or testing the free-agent market.
The Howard trade ended a saga that has badly damaged his reputation, particularly within Florida. He appeared immature and petulant after changing his mind more than once about wanting a trade, putting Orlando in a tough situation.
After initially opting for another year with the Magic, Howard turned around later and told the team of his desire to be moved, specifically to the Brooklyn Nets. However, Orlando general manager Rob Hennigan turned down several offers from Brooklyn that included center Brook Lopez and three first-round draft picks, among other compensation.
Howard’s antics eventually cost the job of Orlando head coach Stan Van Gundy.