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Dwight Howard returns to Orlando, which will be fine without him

Mar 12, 2013, 12:47 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers Introduce Dwight Howard Getty Images

Tuesday night will be cathartic for some Magic fans — Dwight Howard returns to Orlando and they will get to lustily boo the guy who left them. The guy they feel screwed them and the franchise over. Magic fans can sing “Forget You” at the top of their lungs. They can boo the Lakers as well because they keep ending up with Orlando big men.

Then they can move on. Because management has and there are reasons for optimism in Orlando.

Make no mistake, the Magic are a bad team this year. But out of that trade they got some nice young pieces that can help them develop, players to go with the high draft picks they are going to get the next few years. There is real cause for hope.

Orlando’s plan was never to get equal value back in a deal for Howard because  you never get equal value moving a superstar. It’s not possible. Try and you end up with Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries on oversized deals.

Orlando GM Rob Hennigan made the smarter call — get good again by first getting young and bad. Get draft picks, be smart with them and build that way. Like Hennigan learned to do with Sam Presti in Oklahoma City. And so far the Magic have succeeded at the bad part with the second worst record in the NBA. They will be drafting top 5 whatever happens in the lottery.

Plus they got some young players who could be part of that future in Nikola Vucevic (12.3 points on 52.5 percent shooting plus 11.4 rebounds a game with a team best PER of 17.3) and Maurice Harkless (an athletic wing with potential giving them 22 minutes and 6.3 points a game).

Hennigan has shown the ability to identify talent, making a nifty deadline deal to get Tobias Harris (who has averaged 15 points a game since arriving) as part of the J.J. Redick deal. Young coach Jacque Vaughn has shown an ability to get his charges to play hard and smart for him.

Dwight Howard has got what he wants, too. It’s taken a while to adjust to it, but he wanted the bright lights and he’s got them. Now that the Lakers are winning and are a playoff team he’ll get more comfortable. He’ll be emotional Tuesday night because he does care about Orlando the city, the fans there, he just butchered his exit. He gets that now, even though he keeps talking and digging his hole deeper.

After Tuesday he can maybe move on. Magic fans should. And they should embrace this team because believe it or not they got a win out of this whole thing. It’s just going to take a couple of years to see it.

  1. dirtydavis - Mar 12, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    I’ll take an Injured Howard over a healthy Bynum

    • joshm5683 - Mar 12, 2013 at 1:02 PM

      Like on the Matrix “there is no spoon” “there is no healthy bynum”

  2. lakerluver - Mar 12, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    I hope he gives them 25 points, 20 boards and blocks 10 shots into the upper deck!!

  3. asimonetti88 - Mar 12, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    It doesn’t show in the win-loss record, but I like what Jacque Vaughn has given the Magic this year. They’re lacking in talent but they’ve been able to put up some good games like they did against the Heat a couple weeks ago, and their younger players are developing (Vucevic being a good example). They had to get worse to get better.

  4. HotHotHeat - Mar 12, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    Expect a lot of Hack-a-Howard tonight. It will probably be 50/50 boos and cheers tonight.

  5. birdsflynorth206 - Mar 12, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    The Magic & Nuggets are the winners of this trade

  6. fruitcovejag - Mar 12, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    Every team should make Howard shoot at least 15-20 FTs. It interrupts the flow of LAs offense, doesn’t allow Kobe, Nash, or any shooter to get into a rhythm, and it gets right between Dwight’s ears. And if you’re trading baskets for 40-50% FT shooting with his teammates not knowing if or when Dwight will be fouled, the offense will be out of rhythm. I say foul early and late in the shot clock. Don’t know why the Raptors or Hornets didn’t employ this strategy, prior to two minutes left, instead of letting the team get going.

    • tsi431 - Mar 12, 2013 at 3:55 PM

      Lakers need Howard to shoot FT’s, they need the extra rest with their age. Plus it gets them to bonus faster.

  7. tsi431 - Mar 12, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    Because what every team, with a brand new arena, needs is a crappy young team with potential. The Magic didn’t get screwed in this deal, their fans did.

  8. magicbucs - Mar 12, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Magic have great young talent. 5 rookies and 3 2nd yr guys. Most of them are showing that they have a high ceiling to grow. Vucevic, Harkless, Nicholson, Harris, Moore, O’quinn, jones. The first 4 named could be future Allstar caliber players. The next OKC … Hennigan helped build OKC, hmmmm. And a top 5 pick this season and probably next.

    • aboogy123456 - Mar 12, 2013 at 4:01 PM

      the magic do have a lot of good young pieces, but right now they are all assets and nobody to build around. having a top 5 pick is one thing but turning that into Durant and Westbrook is something else.

      • Kurt Helin - Mar 12, 2013 at 6:50 PM

        True. And in this draft scouts don’t think there is a Westbrook, let alone a Durant.

  9. mungman69 - Mar 12, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    What does a healthy Bynam look like?

    • dirtydavis - Mar 12, 2013 at 7:10 PM

      Greg Ostertag > Bynum

  10. JHathwell - Mar 12, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    It’s pretty amazing to not the future prospects of these teams less than a year after the deal.

    Orlando has a young roster loaded with upside and rookie contracts. They’ve got a stockpile of draft picks and will likely get a top 3 pick in the next draft. Meanwhile, the Lakers have an old roster lacking depth and are looking at a 30 million dollar tax bill this year, and if they re-sign Dwight they’d be paying EIGHTY MILLION IN LUXURY TAX unless they Dump Kobe or Pau.

    The old adage about never getting full value for departing superstars is starting to be disproven my smart GM’s who are getting back so many pieces that they are able to either rebuild on the fly but, like Denver did with Melo, end up a better and depper team than they were before the trade.

    • tsi431 - Mar 12, 2013 at 5:08 PM

      Difference is the Lakers revenue stream is above and beyond Orlando’s and anyone else in the NBA and $80 million won’t effect them one bit. However, Gasol will be traded after this season so all is moot.

      The Magic, just like the Hornets, can say we have a bright future and potential, but you know what potential gets you, absolutely nothing.

      Draft picks and youth wont get you an NBA Championship. They only add pieces to a stockpiled team.

      • JHathwell - Mar 12, 2013 at 6:09 PM

        You are assuming they are going to be willing to pay an 80 million dollar tax bill. That’s alot to assume, especially when you consider how this team has played.

        Anyway, Orlando was an 90 milion payroll team during the last few dwight years and were out in the first and second round. Now, they have a chance to start all over and so far, their future looks very promising because Hennigan appears to know what he’s doing. Given the situation they were in 9 months ago, things are looking pretty damn good.

        Given the fact that they lost their franchise player, things appear to be working out pretty damn good.

  11. fruitcovejag - Mar 12, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    I agree JHathwell. In 3 years this game isn’t even close (after Orlando’s young talent improves and the new lottery picks are in). Of course LA reloads, but they are susceptible to droughts (minus Magic and Kobe). I know far out but one player means SO much. bottom line, LAL are old! And they better watch out tonight! The Lakers do not want Dwight shooting FTs tsi…keep telling yourself that. Lakers win by 10 tonight though.

    • tsi431 - Mar 12, 2013 at 5:11 PM

      Minus Magic and Kobe?

      You are talking about before 1979 (Magic Johnson’s first year) to the present.

      Because they were only Conference champions in the 50’s,60’s,70’s,80’s, etc.

      You have no idea what you are talking about.

  12. fruitcovejag - Mar 12, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    I agree w/first post tsi. Valid points. What will some of Orlando’s top picks get them? Mostly role players as history would prove. Game changers are few and far between. As far as Magic, Kobe, etc on the greats (Shaq, Kareem) a lot of times you get lucky with a gem through the draft, or trade and free agency (build around them) and are able to win a championship. If guys like MJ, Kobe and Tim Duncan, Kevin Durant etc stay loyal to the team that got “lucky” LA will have a more difficult time staying on top. All I was saying. And you went way back to the 1950s? Yeah, the league hasn’t changed at all since then man! I’d say it might be a little more competitive as far as winning and staying on top now. Nice try though.

  13. eerock41 - Mar 12, 2013 at 6:37 PM

    I will be interesting to see what happens with the lakers now that the son is in full control of them. I may not be a laker fan but you had to respest Dr buss, and the way he ran that team.

  14. myvian - Mar 12, 2013 at 10:34 PM

    Reblogged this on myvian.

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