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Does Dwight Howard already have one eye on the door?

Feb 7, 2011, 12:57 PM EDT

NBA: Orlando Magic at Los Angeles Clippers

This is where we are now.

When a player is a couple years away from free agency — as Dwight Howard is in 2012 — there will be stories about how if the team doesn’t win a title he is gone. The stories have started about Chris Paul as well, all in the wake of what LeBron James has done and Carmelo Anthony is doing.

But we’re talking about Howard and the Magic now, and Ken Berger at CBSSports reports he’s glancing toward the door.

Howard evidently is willing to be patient. A free agent in 2012 along with the Hornets’ Chris Paul, Howard has yet to form a strong opinion one way or the other, according to a person with knowledge of his thinking. Stay or go? To paraphrase LeBron, what should he do? If he does leave, Howard has his eyes on two teams — the Lakers and Knicks — as the big-market destinations where he’ll chase down his championships and marketing opportunities if things don’t work out in the Sunshine State. The Nets, who are supposed to be in Brooklyn by then, also are in the mix, the person said.

Not the Howard to the Lakers rumors again. Please. We’ve discussed this before — the Lakers are locked into long-term deals (including center Andrew Bynum) for long past that date and if you think the Lakers want to break up a roster that has won two titles in a row, well, you probably thought Christina Aguilera did a great job on the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. (I’m not sure what was worse, the flub of the words or just the rendition itself.)

Might he leave in two years? Sure. Maybe. But he may find — as Carmelo Anthony is finding now — that getting to those places where you think the wins and marketing money flows like milk and honey is a lot harder than it looks. And it could cost you money.

Meanwhile, you’re with a franchise that has worked very hard to put a quality team around you. This is not LeBron in Cleveland, this is a much better roster over the years with Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu and Brandon Bass and so on and so on. You’re in a new building. You’re a national figure with plenty of marketing opportunities.

Which is to say, the grass is not always greener. Fortunately, we have some time for Howard to really think about this.

  1. zblott - Feb 7, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    I hope it’s not true, but if it is, it would help explain why the Magic have been so inconsistent as they drop a little bit in the Power Rankings:

  2. leearmon - Feb 7, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    Trading for Arenas shows that Orlando is willing to make moves, but maybe not SMART moves. Remember, they traded for Vince Carter too. Two moves that any semi-astute follower of the NBA could have told you were be a bad ideas. Does Dwight staying in Orlando keep the competitive balance in the East high? Of course. However, I can understand why he would want to keep the pressure on the Magic’s front office. I have no problem with what he is reportedly doing. As for the Lakers, just because they have money tied up does not mean they would not be able to make something happen. If Dwight uses his power wisely he could force a deal, and we all know L.A. has plenty of tradeable assets. If you are going to lose Dwight, an Odom, Bynum and whatever expiring contracts you may have is not the worst deal you could make… Just ask Denver.

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