Orlando Should Regret Not Trading Dwight Howard

By Dennis Berry

The Not-So-Happiest Place in the NBA

They say that hindsight is 20/20. It is easier to see that the decision you made after the fact was not necessarily the right one. The Orlando Magic are a prime example of that.
For much of the basketball season they were dealing with the drama surrounding All-Star center Dwight Howard. For months there was constant talk about Howard wanting to be traded out of Orlando.

There was also the constant talk that Howard wanted to go to New Jersey. Then the talk was that Howard may end up in Los Angeles. He would either go to the Lakers to team with Kobe Bryant or the Clippers to join Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

When the trade deadline came to pass at 3 p.m. EST on March 15, Howard was still a member of the Orlando Magic. He decided that he wanted to be a part of the Magic organization and waive his option to exit his contract at the end of the year. That would keep Howard in Orlando until the end of the 2012-2013 season.

Maybe now Orlando wishes they would have just dealt Howard to begin with. They could have saved themselves the drama that would unfold this week.

Before the Magic hosted the New York Knicks this past Thursday, Head Coach Stan Van Gundy used his press conference to reveal that Howard wanted him fired as head coach.  It may have been the most awkward press conference to ever take place.

The after effects could be seen on the court later that night. That Magic would lose to the Knicks 96-80. It would be their fifth straight loss. Howard would score eight points and grab only eight rebounds.

During the five game losing streak, the Magic have fallen from third in the Eastern Conference standings to sixth. An 88-82 win against the free falling Philadelphia 76ers Saturday night gave the Magic a much needed positive end to a rough week.

Orlando could have saved itself the trouble of the last week if it had just dealt Howard when it had the chance. If you have read the Yahoo! Sports report, then maybe the Magic are getting what they deserve. The Magic threatened Howard with a trade to the Lakers if he did not waive his right to opt-out of the final year of his contract.

It is odd that the Magic were able to use a trade to the Lakers as a threat to get Howard to stay. Of course, LA is not where Howard wants to be. He wants to be a Net, in Brooklyn.

This just adds to the craziness that has been the Orlando season. They have dealt with trade rumors surrounding them all season long.  They were able to get past that and compile a 28-16 record. Dwight Howard was playing at a MVP candidate level.

After securing Howard through the 2012-13 season they have gone 5-7. Their best win in that time was against the 76ers. Howard is no longer in the MVP discussion though.

It is hard to blame Orlando for not wanting to lose Howard. They have already lost one All-Star center when Shaquille O’Neal went to Los Angeles in 1996. After O’Neal left, the Magic would not get past the first round of the playoff until 2008.

Although keeping Howard around – when he clearly does not want to be there – is hard to understand. It took threatening to trade him to the west coast to make him commit to the final year of his contract. It is hard to believe that once that contract is up he will re-up with Magic; whether Van Gundy is the coach or not.

Orlando Should Regret Not Trading Dwight Howard
Orlando's Dwight Howard in Atlanta Hawks 84-81 victory over the Orlando Magic in Eastern Conference
First Round Game 6 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, GA.

So there appears to be two major questions that the Magic will have to answer soon. The first is whether Van Gundy will be their coach next season. If what Van Gundy said in his press conference is true it is hard to see him on the sideline next year. With Howard returning next year, the Magic are going to have to do everything they can to try and get him to sign a long term contract.

The next will unfold next year. What if Orlando cannot get Howard to sign? At some point next year it will become clear to Orlando whether they have a legitimate shot at locking Howard to a deal. If they do not get it done in the summer will Orlando let another trade deadline pass in 2013 without getting something for Howard before he leaves as a free agent?

Of course trading a 6'11" six time all-star entering the prime of his career is easier to talk about than actually do. For Orlando it would be better for the team to move Howard and rebuild the team with what they get for him.

Or get nothing for him and hope another game changing center is there to draft in a few seasons.

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