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."

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson heard some of the rumors, but not to a large degree. The former Blackhawks defenseman wasn’t spending a lot of time on the internet reading up on his potential fate. He figured he’d still stay put in Chicago.

“But when my agent called me about the 10-team list, I understood it was serious. Stan [Bowman] wouldn’t ask for that unless they made up their mind already,” Hjalmarsson said via conference call on Saturday. “That’s when it hit me that I’m probably not going to put the Hawks jersey on anymore.”

Indeed, Hjalmarsson’s next jersey will be that of the Arizona Coyotes, who acquired him in exchange for defenseman Connor Murphy on Friday. Hjalmarsson’s departure marks the end of the line for another Blackhawks core player, and this one is jarring in how it will change the team’s defense.

Speaking of change, Hjalmarsson faces a lot of it himself now. Sure, there’s the obvious change for a guy who’s played his entire career in one place. It’s new surroundings and a new team, on which he knows former Blackhawks teammate Antti Raanta and fellow countryman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

But the Coyotes have dealt with a lot of upheaval lately. Goaltender Mike Smith is gone. So is veteran Shane Doan. On Thursday, head coach Dave Tippett and the Coyotes parted ways.

“They’re on a rebuild, a lot of new faces, lot of changes,” Hjalmarsson said. “It’s tough to know what to expect but I think they’re a hungry organization that wants to win like other teams. I’m looking forward to try to contribute with playing my game, just try to get the organization back in the playoffs.”

Hjalmarsson should find chemistry with Ekman-Larsson – the two were teammates in the Winter Olympics in Sochi – and Hjalmarsson will likely play a bigger role with the Coyotes. Arizona will probably look to Hjalmarsson a lot during its rebuild, given his Cup-winning history.

The first 24 hours were full of mixed emotions of Hjalmarsson. With his limited no-move clause, he was always a likely candidate to be moved from a Blackhawks team laden will full no-move clauses. He’s turning a page, but he won’t forget his time in Chicago anytime soon.

“I’m trying to always be a positive guy,” Hjalmarsson said. “I spent my whole 20s in Chicago, 10 unbelievable years. I didn’t think I’d win three Cups. Hopefully I can get one more before my career is over. I had the best time in Chicago, enjoyed every single year, playing in front of the best fans in the league. I’ve been spoiled. Now it’s time for me and my family to move on and seize the opportunity in Arizona and create some new fond memories.”

'It's possible, absolutely' that Carlos Rodon's next start could be with White Sox

'It's possible, absolutely' that Carlos Rodon's next start could be with White Sox

Help may be on the horizon for the White Sox starting rotation. 

Carlos Rodon, who threw 4 1/3 innings for the Charlotte Knights on Friday night, could make his next start for the big league club.

Before the Mark Buehrle Day ceremony on Saturday, Rick Renteria discussed whether the 24-year-old would need another start in Triple-A Charlotte as he rehabs from bursitis in his left shoulder. 

"I don't," Renteria said. "I think our plans are probably to get him back with us." 

Despite being tagged for seven earned runs Friday, Renteria was encouraged by Rodon's sharp off-speed pitches. He also extended for 91 pitches, but the Knights' defense struggled, stretching innings with two throwing errors.

"Actually, in talking to everybody, he threw pretty well," Renteria said. "Had a couple miscues in the field that were probably limited his outing. He felt good, pain-free, we’re very happy with that. According to the reports, the slider was working very well. He’s on track to come on back.”

His return could boost a rotation that has labored over the past month. In the last 30 games, the starters' ERA is a combined 5.63 with just six quality starts. They also set a franchise record for consecutive games without a quality start, tallying up 13 in a row. 

Renteria didn't level any specific expectations for Rodon, but stretching him out in Charlotte eases the transition. 

“I have to monitor everything he’s doing," Renteria said. "It’d be foolish for me to say I’m not going to be mindful of what he’s gone through. Obviously, we’re very happy that he’s healthy. He’s gotten up to I think 91 pitches yesterday, so we’re not concerned about his pitch count.”

In Triple-A Charlotte rehab starts, Rodon is 0-3 with a 9.22 ERA. He did whiff seven batters Friday, though, for a season high. 

As for Miguel Gonzalez, his timetable for a return is still up in the air, but he will throw a bullpen session Sunday or Monday, according to Renteria.

In the bullpen, Nate Jones got clearance to start throwing on Saturday. Infielder Tyler Saladino was also cleared, but Renteria said the team will "progress slowly" with him.