One thing the NBA lockout did was keep talk muffled about the Orlando Magic’s upcoming nightmare media circus surrounding the destination of franchise center Dwight Howard.
If the entire season was canceled then GM Otis Smith would have had no way of satisfying Howard’s championship this season demand, thus letting him off the hook somewhat if Howard left town.
Now that a season is likely to start on Christmas Day (with the Magic potentially being added to the festivities), Smith has no choice but to try fix the roster he created or trade Howard before season’s end. If a Magic vs Clippers game is added to the opening day schedule as speculated by CBSSports.com then the nation can get a first hand look at what Howard has to work with as teammates. His desire for team improvement might be justified in front of a national audience on day one of the season.
Merry Christmas Otis.
There is blood in the water as GMs around the league call, text, email, and fax proposals they feel will entice Smith to trade Howard. Some of the offers are fantastical, some like the one reportedly offered by the New Jersey Nets make some sense.
Marc Stein and Chad Ford of ESPN.com: The New Jersey Nets are prepared to offer a trade package featuring Brook Lopez and two future first-round picks to acquire Dwight Howard before the Orlando Magic center becomes a free agent in July 2012, according to sources close to the situation. Sources told ESPN.com this week that, to sweeten the proposal, New Jersey would likewise offer to take back the contract of Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu, who has three seasons left on his contract worth just under $35 million.
This could be seen as one of the better offers Orlando is going to get for Howard as it gives them a viable center in return, draft picks (surely to be protected) to build around, and cap relief on Turkoglu’s gargantuan contract. With the loss of Turkoglu it would then behoove Orlando to amnesty Gilbert Arenas to get even further under the cap. The loss of those two contracts would save the Magic about $29.8 million this season (less if Arenas were to get picked up by another team).
Other deals include the well publicized offer from the Lakers that includes Orlando’s choice of Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol with Lamar Odom and now the Clippers who are willing to trade just about anyone not named Blake Griffin.
With all that said it still makes the most sense for Orlando to put the New Jersey deal and all others in their back pocket for now and wait till closer to the trade deadline in March to see what they may be tantalized with. The offers are likely to be even more to their favor but it is a catch 22 cause if they wait to long then those shark GM’s will sense if Smith is being forced into a deal.
For now Smith is playing it cool. He told the Orlando Sentinel the following:
“I don’t think you can take anything out of consideration. I think, one, you have to talk to your player first. We have to figure out where his head is, not where everyone thinks his head is, and just more figure out where he wants to be. And then you have to make the best decision of what’s in the best interests of the franchise. That’s how I’ve always went about it: to make the best decision that’s in the best interests of the Orlando Magic.”
A diplomatic statement if ever one was said for sure.
Make no mistake Smith is sweating and the thought of the Central Florida fan base losing another franchise center without compensation is not something Smith wants to make his reality.
For the Magic the summer of 2012 can be nothing like the summer of 1996. Shaq in Orlando is similar to the Alamo in San Antonio…everbody remembers and nobody wants to see history repeat itself.
About the Author
Written by Warren Shaw
I am an avid Basketball fan who has worked for the New York Knicks, Alonzo Mourning Charities and various other sports organizations. Having covered many NBA and various professional sporting events has given me the opportunity to provide insight with an unbiased but flavor driven view. I look forward to providing NBA content and interacting with knowledgeable fans and readers. Follow me on Twitter @shawsports or Email your questions to me at Warrenshaw@prosportsblogging.com