Like Carmelo Anthony before him, Dwight Howard has become a non-stop source of trade rumors. But while an end is in sight, the uncertainty of that end is disconcerting for everyone involved. In more ways than one.
Howard is known to prefer a trade to the New Jersey Nets, a team who is ready and willing to relinquish Brook Lopez, and much more, in exchange for the prolific big man.
The Magic know there are plenty of offers on the table, but refuse to relinquish Howard without a fight. Orlando GM Otis Smith continues to pillage through available players, like Steve Nash, hoping to bring in one that convinces Howard to stay. And even if the Magic fail to snag a game-changing player, there is no guarantee Howard gets shipped out.
Orlando is well-aware of the immediate consequences of not dealing Howard. He will be an unrestricted free agent upon season’s end, and if the team doesn’t deal him, they risk losing him for nothing, in a scenario that is all too familiar for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
That being said, such a risk will be one worth taking in the eyes of many. Howard has been the face of the Magic franchise for nearly a decade, and it’s tough, both on the part of player and organization, to sever such established ties.
Before Orlando opts to hold onto Howard and let the situation play out though, they must consider this: His potential July departure would not only leave them with nothing, but would likely be the driving force behind an even more formidable powerhouse entity in Brooklyn than anyone could have imagined.
Deron Williams and Howard are enough to cripple most opposing teams, but if the Nets acquire him via free-agency, without having to give up any assets, they then have the ability to turn said assets into another superstar.
Like Monta Ellis.
From ESPN.com (paywall):
“Howard’s preference would be to sign with New Jersey as a free agent, thereby allowing the Nets to keep the solid role players—Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Jordan Farmar and Anthony Morrow—they’d have to trade to get him before March 15.”
Aside from the fact that Howard appears to be willing to do what Carmelo Anthony was not, consideration must be given to what the Nets can actually do with their supporting cast.
The team could opt to see how they fair with two superstars and a deep bench, or they could deal for Ellis.
While the Golden State Warriors steadfastly deny the Lopez for Ellis rumor, their desperate need for a big man suggests otherwise.
Ellis has his flaws, but alongside a proven floor general in Williams and a commanding center in Howard, his errant decisions would cease to exist.
And all because the Magic decided to let it ride.
If Orlando fails to extract every bit of value it can from Howard’s preferred destination, they run the risk of allowing the Nets to form a roster laden with three superstars, and depth.
The fact that the third superstar in question would be someone the Magic targeted in order to keep Howard in Orlando just twists the knife even deeper.
By standing, in a sense, idly by and watching the trade deadline pass, the Magic are taking more of a risk than some realize. If they are unable to acquire a second star themselves, and proceed to retain Howard for the remainder of the season, they stand to get burned in more ways than one.
Any conclusions Orlando draws from hereon out have consequences.
Both immediate, and down the road.
Dan Favale is an avid basketball analyst and firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His work can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.