NBA Rumors: Magic Must Use Hawks to Get Sweet Deal from Lakers

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IDecember 28, 2011

ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 21: Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic argues a call during a preseason game against the Miami Heat at Amway Center on December 21, 2011 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

If the Orlando Magic want to get the best possible deal for Dwight Howard, they need to use the Atlanta Hawks as a pawn in their grand scheme. 

The Magic are going to quickly run into the trade deadline, and they need to do everything they can to get value for Howard before they watch him walk away for nothing.

The Hawks and Magic had been engaged in trade talks earlier this month. The Magic must resume these discussions. 


The Rumor

Marc Stein of ESPN notes that the Hawks had offered up the following trade package to the Magic: 

Sources told that the aforementioned Hawks, meanwhile, engaged Orlando in trade talks for Howard earlier this month with an offer believed to be headlined by $124 million guard Joe Johnson and swingman Josh Smith. You have to figure that the Magic, though, would insist on Al Horford if such discussions ever got serious. 

Stein goes on to report that these talks have stalled out. 


Why This Deal Won't Happen

Even if the Hawks do throw in Horford, this deal is not going to happen. The reason is that Howard is not going to sign with the Hawks. 

Howard is from Atlanta. So the fact that Atlanta is not on his list of preferred destinations is completely revealing. 

Howard didn't fail to mention the Hawks in preferred teams (Nets, Lakers, Mavericks) because they slipped his mind. He likely saw the uncertainty surrounding their ownership and decided he wanted no part of them. 


Why the Magic Must Make it Appear to be Happening

Orlando needs to reengage the Hawks in these trade talks. They need to leak that these talks are getting serious. 

They need the leverage. Once their deal fell apart with the Nets, when Brook Lopez suffered a foot injury, this team lost its favored trading partner and the ability to entice a team—namely the Lakers—out of more talent for Howard. 

As it is now, the Lakers have no reason to enhance their offer. They can simply sit back, and wait for the Magic to get pushed up against the trade deadline and come crawling to them.  

If the Lakers get nervous that Howard is about to be shipped someplace else, they will be the team feeling the desperation. 

Having the Hawks as leverage could be the difference between the Magic landing a trade package centered just around Andrew Bynum and one that is centered around Bynum and Pau Gasol. 

And that is the difference between being a playoff contender and a rebuilding team.