By John Schmeelk
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Dwight Howard is not a smart man. There, I said it.

No, wait… man is not the right word. He might look the part, but he doesn’t act like one.

Howard is not a smart kid.

He’s re-issued a trade demand to the Nets as though he has any leverage at all. He doesn’t. He gave that up when he decided to sign on for one more year with the Orlando Magic a year ago. I wonder how long it’ll take for him to change his mind again. It will be the — what, 30th time?

Would you want this guy as the centerpiece of your franchise?

Howard claimed he was “blackmailed” into signing his extension last year, if Chris Broussard’s report was correct. (He later denied it to Yahoo! Sports.) At least that would explain why he made such an asinine decision. If he never agreed to return, he could have already signed with Brooklyn, his preferred destination. To their credit, the Nets used their 2013 cap space on Joe Johnson. By doing so, Howard no longer has any leverage.

The overgrown seven-foot child can shout he wants to be traded to the Nets all he wants, but no one has to listen to him anymore. He has absolutely no way of getting there without a trade. If he gets to free agency, the Nets are no longer an option, making all of his posturing an absolute farce.

Whatever team the Magic end up trading Howard away to will have all the leverage in the world. They will have the ability to pay him more money than any other franchise. Without the Nets as an option, odds are Howard will re-sign with the team that can pay him the most money. Or, he will simply choose another new preferred destination and go there. Howard’s leverage to demand a trade to Brooklyn is gone. If he changes his mind again (would anyone really be surprised? He flip flops more than most politicians) and decides a team like the Hawks are his No. 1 choice, he’ll have some muscle back in his corner. But Howard needs to get off this Nets obsession.

That game is over.

For that reason, the Magic are not going to trade Howard to the Nets. They want no part of taking on nearly $20 million of long-term money for Brook Lopez (who can’t rebound), Kris Humphries (with no offensive game) and MarShon Brooks (a volume scorer with bad shot selection). Even if they got three first-round picks, all of which would be between 20 and 30, is that really better than using that money in free agency in a year? Lopez, Humphries and Brooks — not the core of a championship team.

The best part is that Howard did this to himself. His decision to re-up with Orlando last year has trapped him and he’s now at Orlando’s mercy. In the process, Howard destroyed Orlando’s 2011-2012 season and got Stan Van Gundy and Otis Smith fired. They owe him nothing.

The Magic should enjoy sending him to wherever they get the best offer, likely a team like the Houston Rockets or the Atlanta Hawks. Those teams should realize once they control Howard, they can offer him the most money and exercise a measure of control of him.

Make Howard pay for his stupidity and his nonsense.

He deserves it.

I’ll continue to provide coverage of NBA free agency on Twitter; follow me @Schmeelk.

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