Does an exit for Orlando mean an exit for Dwight Howard?
Many will say that it is a championship or bust year for the Orlando Magic. The reason behind this is the looming free agency of Dwight Howard following the 2011-12 season.
The Magic are now on the brink of elimination, down 3-1 to the Atlanta Hawks and Howard has been doing everything in his power to get wins for his team. Averaging 33.3 points on 66.7% from the field and pulling down 17.5 rebounds per game. He has also played all but 12 minutes in the four games this series however these astonishing numbers have only been good enough to win one game.
Where are the Magic going wrong?
A consistent trend during the playoffs is Orlando’s under achieving supporting cast. You must wonder what kind of confidence Howard has in his GM, Otis Smith, to put together the pieces of a championship team. I’m thinking it’s not high.
So far Smith’s efforts have been questionable at best, signing Rashard Lewis to a large contract, who turned out to be very ineffective. Trading away their backup center, Marcin Gortat, who provided valuable minutes and now bringing in the like of a broken Gilbert Arenas. I could go on, but I imagine you get the point, it would be hard for Howard to stay in Orlando with what seems to be anti-championship management.
What do the Magic have ahead of them if their playoffs are cut short?
My prediction is nothing good. Howard is one of the most low maintenance superstars in the league, it’s hard to see him leave the franchise that he has been with his entire career. We all know he wants a championship, he hasn’t kept that a secret and recently we’ve seen the leagues biggest stars make moves that were thought unimaginable. Fans have already created the website staydwight.com, so you know that free agency is no out of the question.
All the cards are with Dwight, if he chooses to test out the free agent market and Smith keeps his word on not trading his superstar big man, chances are high that Orlando will be the next Cleveland. The smartest decision would be to trade Howard and at least get some value for him.
Where could Howard land next season if he is traded?
There would be many teams wanting to give up valuable pieces in order to get him on their roster. The likes of Los Angeles, New Jersey or even Chicago would all be possibilities. Chicago have a number of players that Orlando might be interested in, I could imagine the trade will involve some combination of Noah, Boozer, Asik, Gibson and Deng. LA also has some assets, Bynum would be in the middle of that trade with the addition of Odom or Brown and without a question, New Jersey, who have the rising star in Brook Lopez.
However it’s hard to say what will happen, Orlando still have a chance to continue in the playoffs, a very slim one, but nothing that hasn’t been done before. Last time someone came back from a 3-1 deficit was the Phoenix Suns in round 1 of the 2006 playoffs against the Lakers. Anything is possible.
It looks like it will be another eventful offseason.
Until next time..
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