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Howard deflects trade questions

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Dwight Howard looked like he didn't have a care in the world Friday night.

As he coached in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, he erupted into a belly laugh when 5-foot-nothing actor Kevin Hart had a layup attempt stuffed by the underside of the rim. Howard barked out encouragement as rapper J Cole took a long jumper. Howard even drew up a play on a clipboard during a TV timeout.

Howard is trying to put his stay-or-go saga to the side these next few days, especially when he faces question after question about his future plans.

"The situation right now is All-Star weekend," Howard told reporters Friday afternoon. "That's the only thing that matters right now. This is the moment. This is All-Star weekend. We're going to have fun and we're going to enjoy ourselves. All that stuff can go on after All-Star weekend."

Howard, who will play in the All-Star Game on Sunday night, has retreated to similar stock answers throughout the regular season.

But here's what he does not say: His request to be traded from the Orlando Magic remains on the table, and he could be gone before the March 15 NBA trade deadline.

Yet, on Friday, he spoke of his love for Orlando, often referring to the City Beautiful as "our city."

Howard faced almost as many questions about New York Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin as his uncertain future.


Reggie Miller has a chance to nail his legacy, just as he did so many three-point shots.

The Indiana Pacers great with the smoothest of strokes was announced here as a first-time finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He is one of 12 finalists for the class of 2012.

Miller, a five-time All-Star, was joined as a first-time finalist by five-time NCAA Final Four coach Rick Pitino, former NBA coach Bill Fitch and two-time Olympic gold medalist Katrina McClain.

On the ballot again are Niagara Falls native Hank Nichols, Don Nelson, Maurice Cheeks, Bernard King, Dick Motta, Ralph Sampson, Jamaal Wilkes and the All-American Red Heads, known as the female version of the Harlem Globetrotters and the first women's professional basketball team.

The 2012 class will be announced April 2 at the NCAA Final Four in New Orleans. A finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election.