Dwight wants out, but will the Magic comply?

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Dwight wants out, but will the Magic comply?

From Comcast SportsNet
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The Magic say they haven't committed to honoring Dwight Howard's latest trade demand that he be dealt to the Brooklyn Nets. New Orlando general manager Rob Hennigan said Monday that Howard told him in a meeting last week that he would like to be traded, but Hennigan said he has not committed to honoring that demand. He said will keep communication lines open between both the All-Star and his agent. It's exactly the scenario the Magic wanted to avoid -- for a second time. Howard listed several teams last season that he wanted to be traded to, but on the day of the trading deadline he committed to the Magic for the 2012-13 season. Magic CEO Alex Martins has said previously that the organization will not enter next season with Howard's situation unresolved. Orlando was looking to sign Howard to a long-term deal, however, now that Howard has had his first, face-to-face sit down with the Magic's new general manager, the All-Star center made it clear he still very much wants out of Orlando. Hennigan said that having Howard single out one team as a desired destination does complicate any potential trade scenarios, but for now, there is no immediate move the Magic to make following the sit down. "As I told Dwight, I said I don't know. I have to think about what you're telling me.' I want to take some time to process everything," Hennigan said of the meeting. "And the answer is we want to map out what's in the best interest of our team. And any decision that at decide going forward with will be one that we feel puts our team in a position to be successful and move forward." Howard told Yahoo Sports Monday that he won't sign long-term with another team if the Magic decide to trade him to somewhere other than Brooklyn. "There's only one team on my list and if I don't get traded there, I'll play the season out and explore my free agency after that," Howard said. Howard also vigorously denied an ESPN report that he was claiming that the Magic blackmailed him at the trade deadline to give up the opt-out provision in his contract that would have allowed him to become a free-agent this summer. Howard asked to be traded last season, and then opted-in for 2012-2013 -- forgoing becoming a free agent this summer. "I never used the word blackmail in reference to any of my dealings with the Magic," Howard said. "I never said that. It's defamatory and it's inaccurate. I know what blackmail means and any report that I used the term incorrectly is inaccurate." Hennigan also said the charge was never levied by Howard. "In terms of his health, I think what I can tell you is that Dwight's rehabilitation process is progressing in the right direction," he said. "I do not believe his health will be an issue going forward." Hennigan reiterated that beyond sharing Dwight's request, he wants the discussions beyond that to remain private at this time in order as a matter of trust between himself and Howard. "That's my plan with Dwight and with whoever we talk to on our roster...I would leave it to Dwight to share with Dwight any details he wants to share about the conversation," Hennigan said. "But again, out of respect for the trust and privacy I'm trying to build I'm not really going to talk about what else we discussed." Aside from Howard, the Magic are facing other lingering free agency questions surrounding career-long Magic players Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick, and reigning league most improved player Ryan Anderson. Nelson told the Magic last week that he would opt out of the final year and nearly 8 million of his contract and test free agency. Redick is due 6.1 million next year in the final season of his deal, but the team can get out of that if they waive him by July 7. Anderson is a restricted free agent, though the Magic extended a qualifying offer to the third-year forward last week. It allows the team to match any offer he receives on the open market this summer. Hennigan said that they will take their time this week making a decision on Redick and still hope to keep Nelson next year. "My hope is that he remains in Orlando and in a Magic uniform," he said of Nelson. "But there needs to be a mutual desire for that to happen."

Paul George still with Pacers, but admits it's been a 'very different' season

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Paul George still with Pacers, but admits it's been a 'very different' season

BOSTON – It’s easy to forget that it was just three years ago Paul George was part of a strong Indiana Pacers nucleus that was in the Eastern Conference finals and took the LeBron James-led Miami Heat to seven games.

Things have changed dramatically for the 6-foot-9 George who is leading a Pacers team that’s fighting just to be in the playoffs, a team that just a month ago he wasn’t sure he would even be a part of due to trade rumors that included him potentially being traded to Boston.

"It's been a different year for Paul," said Pacers head coach Nate McMillan. "The last few years he played with a group of guys that are no longer with him. Having to establish and lead this new group, it's the first time for him. As well as being concerned about his play. It's growth for him. That doesn't happen overnight. Sometimes that takes a little time."

George, playing in Boston for the first time tonight since the NBA trade deadline passed, acknowledged there was a sense of relief when Feb. 23 came and went and he remained a Pacer.

“It was great from the sense of the outside stuff,” George said. “Not for myself. Again, where I was, is where I was gonna be at. I was gonna make the most out of it. It was just good to put that to rest. To have to keep answering those questions. Or, to keep avoiding those questions, to where I could just focus on what's at hand. And that's trying to at least solidify the six spot, if not move up going down the stretch. Man, we're close to the seventh, we're close to the eighth seed. At this point, it's how can we get a little distance going into the playoffs.”

The Celtics (44-26) have a similar approach to tonight’s game. They come in currently second in the East to Cleveland by two games, and lead Washington by 2.5. The lead over the Wizards will likely increase with most of Washington’s remaining games on the road with a large chunk as part of their final long road trip that begins in Cleveland and then takes them out West where they’ll face the Los Angeles Clippers, the Utah Jazz and cap it off with a road battle at Golden State.

As for George, the trade rumors – a first for him since being a Pacer – weren’t the worst part about this season.

Adapting to a series of new roles, expectations and a relatively new group of teammates, has been difficult for George.

“It's been very different. It's probably been one of the toughest seasons for me,” George said. “Just naturally being a leader. Being the last Pacer with the group that I came in with. And just being in that Eastern Conference finals roster, I'm the last guy on that roster. So, it's been different. I've grown into a different role. Becoming a different leader. And you know, you always re-live them glory days. And when they're gone, it's the last little bit that you remember. So I'm trying to bring that to this team and that edge. But it's taken some time and there's a toll.”

George remains one of the NBA’s best players, evident by the coaches selecting the 26-year-old to his fourth All-Star team last month.

Being an elite player while patiently waiting for the Pacers to improve as a group, has not been easy.

“That's really what's been the toughest part for me,” George said. “Usually I had two jobs; be the best defender and the best scorer. Now it's be the leader. Be the toughness guy. Be the enforcer. It's just a lot of roles that I had to pick up this season and that's what's been the toll. That's what's been the roughest part of it, is how do you put energy in every bit of places. I've grown with it. I've gotten better throughout the season, as the season's gone on. Different matchups gone on. How to approach different teams. But it's been a task. It's been a test. It's been a test to learn.”

Part of that growth individually and as a team involves nights like this when the Pacers face a team like Boston which they could potentially see next month in the first round of the playoffs.

“We have to approach tonight like it's gonna be a playoff battle,” George said. “Celtics (are) not gonna be a team that's gonna let up. They're fighting for positioning as well, I think they're second right now (in the East) and Washington's on their heels. So, they're fighting for playoff positioning and seeding as much as we are. So it's gonna be an intense game.”

Malcolm Butler on Instagram: 'Nothing changed but the change'

Malcolm Butler on Instagram: 'Nothing changed but the change'

We haven't heard from cornerback Malcolm Butler as his future as a Patriot hangs in the balance after his visit with the New Orleans Saints last week.

Butler,  a restricted free agent who has yet to sign the $3.91 million tender offered by the Patriots, posted a photo Wednesday on Instagram with the cryptic message "Nothing changed but the change," which happens to be a lyric from a song titled "Could It Be" by rapper Nick Lyon. So, perhaps a change of teams is being referred to.

"Nothing changed but the change" #BLESSED

A post shared by Malcolm CB Butler (@mac_bz) on

More to come...