Asked if team officials could make a roster move that would sway his decision, Howard responded, "We'll have to see."
"Next question," he said.
In recent days, Magic Chief Executive Officer Alex Martins has spoken with Howard in an attempt to gauge what Howard intends to do about his future. Martins has said that he and Howard have agreed not to divulge any details about what they have discussed, so Howard's reluctance to go into details with reporters should come as no surprise.
The NBA trade deadline looms on March 15.
Howard spoke to the press Saturday after the Magic completed their shootaround to prepare for their game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Howard's trade request remains on the table, but team officials have said for months that their top priority is to retain Howard for the long term. They know that if he becomes a free agent this summer, Howard could sign elsewhere and leave the Magic with no assets in return.
Since December, Martins' role has been something akin to a relief pitcher in baseball who enters a game with his team down by eight runs in the eighth inning.
When Martins was elevated to the CEO's job in early December, replacing Bob Vander Weide, who stepped down from the position, Martins inherited a situation that had devolved into a crisis.
Howard wanted a trade as soon as possible, preferably to the New Jersey Nets.
Howard's relationship with General Manager Otis Smith had deteriorated, with Howard telling the press on one occasion that he was upset Smith had not followed through on some of the personnel suggestions Howard had made.
Martins has communicated with Howard on almost a daily basis since then.
Reports have surfaced recently that the Magic have made an inquiry with the Golden State Warriors to trade for shooting guard Monta Ellis. In a television interview in Moscow this past summer, Howard mentioned Ellis as one of the five players -- along with Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Anthony Morrow and Stephen Jackson -- he would like to play with most.
Speculation also abounds that the Magic would consider making a move to acquire Phoenix Suns point guard and two-time league MVP Steve Nash. But Nash has made it clear that he will not ask the Suns for a trade.
On Saturday, Howard acknowledged that his situation has weighed heavily on him for months now.
"It's been affecting me all season," Howard said.
"But I still have to do my job. I still have to go out and play as hard as I can, and there's a lot of nights where I don't sleep. That's all year. But, like I said, I just have to fight through it and try to put it away when you step on the court."
And Howard said that the uncertainty about him -- and whether some players would be included in a deal -- has sent ripples throughout the entire roster.
"Everybody's feeling it, from the top, from myself, to the last one on the team," Howard said. "We just have to try to block it out and control what we can control."
Howard remains under contract with the Magic through the 2012-13 season, but he can exercise an early termination option in his deal that would allow him to become a free agent this July.
If Howard chooses not to exercise that early termination option, it would be a major victory for the Magic.
Bucks are tigersThe Magic were going for their fourth win over the Bucks in 22 days Saturday. According to Stats Inc., only three NBA teams had beaten an opponent four times in 22 days or fewer since 1970.
Coach Stan Van Gundy worried that the Magic would take the Bucks too lightly. In the three previous wins, Orlando eked out comeback victories after trailing in the fourth quarter.
At Saturday's shootaround, Van Gundy told his players the Bucks were like tigers and the Magic could be like famed tiger trainers Siegfried and Roy.
"They played with those tigers for 13 years, and everything was good, and they got away with playing with 'em," Van Gundy told the media. "And then, after 13 years, Roy found out that the tiger is still a tiger, with not very good results."
Layups•Backup small forward Quentin Richardson missed his third consecutive game because of a strained right Achilles' tendon.
•The Magic began Saturday with the sixth-best record in the NBA. But they have a 3-6 record against the five teams that were ahead of them: the Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and the Indiana Pacers.
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