Dwight Howard could not have been more clear Thursday about his long-term intentions.
He is sticking by his request to be traded from the Orlando Magic.
"It still stands," Howard said.
Asked whether he fluctuates day to day, he answered, "There is no back-and-forth."
Howard's statements, responses to specific questions from the media after practice, came one day after Magic General Manager Otis Smith, in consultation with Magic CEO Alex Martins, turned down a blockbuster trade.
That deal would have sent Howard to the New Jersey Nets and brought, among others, center Brook Lopez from the Nets and swingman Gerald Wallace from the Portland Trail Blazers to Central Florida.
Magic officials say they hope they can change Howard's mind before the March 15 trade deadline.
But what remains unclear is whether the Magic front office actually believes there is a reasonable chance of a Howard change of heart.
Now that Chris Paul has been dealt — his trade from the New Orleans Hornets to the Los Angeles Clippers is official now — the focus of league officials and league analysts has shifted squarely on to the Magic's soap opera.
One of those analysts is Shaquille O'Neal, the previous franchise-cornerstone player to leave Orlando.
Now working for TNT, O'Neal signed a free-agent contract with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1996, leaving the Magic without any players in return.
"I'm going to be keeping my eye out on the Orlando situation," O'Neal told reporters during a TNT conference call Thursday.
"I'm anxious to see if they make the same mistake twice. They just built an arena for $550 million [actually $480 million], and I know there's trade talks about trading him or keeping him. But I think they should keep him. I don't really think management has been doing a good job with that situation."
Of course, keeping Howard is anything but simple for the Magic.
"They have tried to make trades to make that team better," TNT analyst Charles Barkley said. "Did they work? No, they didn't always work.
"They haven't worked out perfectly," Barkley added later. "I give Otis Smith credit. He's made a bunch of trades. They didn't work out now, but they're trying. I mean, everybody wants to go out and get a great player. But they don't grow on trees."
Acquiring Paul is not a option, obviously. And neither is acquiring Nets point guard Deron Williams, who seems perfectly content to hope that Howard is traded to New Jersey.
Smith has made some bold moves during the past week, and two of those moves boost the Magic's payroll after the team cut its salary-cap and luxury-tax figures by waiving Gilbert Arenas via the amnesty provision.
Glen Davis and Jason Richardson have been signed for four years apiece at a total of about $51 million.
Earl Clark re-signed Thursday, but his two-year deal is inexpensive. The contract is thought to be worth a bit more than $1 million per year and include a player option in the second year.
The Magic's key deadline for trading Howard is the March 15 NBA trade deadline.
If they don't trade him by then, they would risk losing him in free agency and receiving no one in return.
"Otis is going to be famous for making the Rashard Lewis deal and letting Dwight Howard go," O'Neal said. "So, hopefully, he doesn't let him go."
Right now, though, Howard sounds intent on leaving.