A road map for Dwight Howard

There are steps Howard needs to take to get back to his old, smiling self. Kim Klement/US Presswire

Not long ago, Dwight Howard was viewed as one of the NBA's good guys. Always smiling, always fun-loving, always dominant, always a fan favorite.

But for the past eight months, a torch has been put to Howard's favorable image. The trade requests, the clandestine meetings, the flip-flopping, the Stan Van Gundy fiasco, the media leaks, the unnecessary ruin he's put the Magic through.

It hasn't all been Dwight's fault, of course. The 24/7 news cycle and the reporting of every new development (no matter how minor or irrelevant) have made the decision-making process for both Howard and the Magic a public nightmare.

And the Van Gundy debacle certainly could have been avoided had there not been loose lips within Orlando's brain trust. Sure, Howard contributed to his embarrassment in that episode by feigning love for Van Gundy with his phony hug, but the truth is that if someone hadn't told Van Gundy things Howard had shared in confidence (that he wanted his coach fired), this sordid summer affair might not be taking place.

People have wondered why in the world Howard waived his opt-out clause in March only to ask to be traded again less than two months later. Well, he did it because when he "opted in," he sincerely wanted to give Orlando a chance to keep him. He thought the Magic had a shot at going deep in the playoffs, and he figured he'd give them the summertime and the early part of next season to make moves that could make the team even better.