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NBA Season Preview: Orlando Magic

Dec 15, 2011, 12:42 PM EDT

Dwight Howard AP

Last season: 52-30, fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Lost a close first-round series to the Atlanta Hawks in six games.

Head Coach: Stan Van Gundy, if he can manage to not go insane while continually asked about the Dwight Howard situation all season.

Key Departures: None … yet. (OK, not entirely true.) Gilbert Arenas was waived using the team’s amnesty provision, and Brandon Bass was sent out of town to the Celtics.

Key Additions: Glen Davis, who isn’t necessarily better than Brandon Bass, but may be a better fit alongside Dwight Howard. And, Davis has had success in postseasons past containing Howard, so there’s that.

Best case scenario: It’s unfortunate for Magic fans to hear, but it’s true nonetheless: The best thing for the franchise would be to trade Dwight Howard sooner rather than later, for the most assets it can get in the best possible package. Orlando’s current roster isn’t capable of getting past the second round of the playoffs, and the team doesn’t have many attractive assets of its own to bring in the level of talent it’s going to take to make Howard think it’s worth it to stay.

For that to happen: Orlando will need to seek a trade with one of the three teams that Howard has reportedly agreed to sign a new contract with: The Lakers, Mavericks, or Nets.

In New Jersey, Howard would be paired with an elite point guard in Deron Williams, on a franchise with an owner who has unlimited cash to throw at additional free agents. The same can be said in the short-term in Dallas, though the Mavericks’ assets are aging ones that wouldn’t help Orlando in the long run. The Lakers might be the best spot for both Howard and the Magic, but only if the Magic get the younger Andrew Bynum in a deal, along with some picks that would have to come from getting a third team involved in the talks.

More likely the Magic will: At this point, it’s anyone’s guess. Reports surfaced that the plan was to shut down trade talks for Howard and play out the first part of the season, perhaps postponing the inevitable until the trade deadline, which has been extended this shortened season until mid-March. The team then said nothing has changed in their thinking, so honestly, nobody knows. All we know now is that the Magic’s roster as is can’t contend for a title, and Dwight Howard can leave after this season as an unrestricted free agent if he so chooses.

Prediction: Dwight Howard is moved before the trade deadline, and Orlando finishes — just barely — with enough wins to make the playoffs.

  1. turnmymicup - Dec 15, 2011 at 4:05 PM

    I live in Orlando and can only say one good thing about the Magic right now. The new arena they built is awesome and thats about it. As far as the team goes the owners and the rest of the management have no clue what their doing. Im not mad at Howard at all for wanting to leave. He is clearly the best center in the league but he has no help. We have a few above average players but they dont even play to their potential. Magics need another scorer badly. Every free agency period comes around and they never make any moves! They always do some midseason trade crap. Why couldnt we go after CP3? David West? Caron butler? Rip H.? Shannon Brown? ANYBODY??!! If Howard leaves most of ORL including myself probably wont be going to games anymore. They better use the money they save on Howards contract to pay the bills for the Arena.

  2. dirksimmons - Dec 16, 2011 at 1:55 AM

    No, the best case scenario is for management to convince him the best play for him to go is to Chicago, where he can play in a big market next to the reigning (23 year old) MVP. That way they can get about 90 cents on the dollar and have some financial flexibility in the next couple of years. Not to mention they’ll still be able to admirably compete in the East and be a mid-tier bunch their fanbase can root for.

    • raidmagic - Dec 16, 2011 at 9:21 AM

      Said the Chicago fan…

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