Magic center Dwight Howard has been traveling across Europe for the last few weeks on a promotional tour with adidas. Howard spent this weekend in Madrid, where, as in previous stops, he charmed fans and media with his outgoing personality.

The All-Star center had some praise Saturday for teammate Gilbert Arenas and was critical of the use the coaching staff made of him in Orlando.

"I don't think our coach used him the right way, but I think he can do a lot of great things for our team," Howard said. "He promised me this summer he was going to get better, physically and mentally, so he can come back and have an awesome year. I'm looking forward to that.

"I just felt like he didn't get the opportunity to play his style but also play with me. I think he needed to. I think he got a couple of opportunities to do it in the playoffs, but it was kind of too late. So I think he will be great for us."

All in all, Howard thinks Stan Van Gundy did well last season with the Magic.

"I think Stan did a good job coaching this year," Howard said. "He's had us prepared for every game, for every playoff series that I've ever been in... He's made sure that we were well-prepared. I like what he did."

Howard also talked about how he would like to have more input on personnel decisions, although he probably doesn't have to ask given his superstar status and impending free agency.

"I should be involved," Howard said. "For seven hard years I've done everything I could in Orlando for us to win a championship and I think I deserve an opportunity to help make decisions as far as the future."

Howard said he has not been in contact with the management of coaches during the offseason, though.

NO OVERSEAS MOVE

Unlike other NBA players, Howard has no plans to gauge interest from overseas teams in the likely event of a lockout.

"If there's a lockout, I'm going to do some other things that I enjoy doing: acting, cartoons, whatever. And also just continue to work on my game. I'll probably have more time to work with Olajuwon now if there is a lockout. I'll be doing stuff like that."

As has been the case for months, Howard was repeteadly asked about the possibility of leaving the Magic. When questioned about which city would be best to live in if he had to choose between New York, Los Angeles and Orlando, Howard responded with humor.

"Orlando," he chuckled "There's no state taxes."