All right, Orlando, it's time to bite the bullet and pull the trigger on a trade for disgruntled star Dwight Howard.
The Magic are falling fast, losing six out of their last eight games, and sitting at 12-9 overall. If the season ended now, the Magic would be an underwhelming six seed in the Easter Conference playoffs, which isn't impressive considering they have Superman on their team.
The only problem right now with Orlando's Superman is that he's turning on his own teammates, calling them out for "not wanting to play." While that may have been true, now isn't the time for Howard to be calling out teammates for not wanting to play in Orlando because, well, that's exactly what he is doing.
The Magic could deal with the insistent trade talk surround star center Dwight Howard while they were winning games. When the Magic were 10-3, trading Howard seemed like the least of their worries, but now that they've lost four in a row in horrifying fashion, the Magic need to start seriously considering putting Howard on the nearest plane out of Orlando.
Sure, the Magic are a better team with Howard on their roster, even if he's ripping apart teammates and playing like he doesn't care.
But the one thing the Magic need to worry about is the possibility of Howard becoming more of a distraction for his teammates and the franchise as a whole, rather than him focusing on being the most dominant center in the NBA.
Now is the best time to trade Howard, not just because he's hurting the team, but also because now is the time that other teams will be willing to give up the most in return for the disgruntled center.
As we move closer to the All-Star break, starting on Feb. 24, teams are beginning to understand now more than ever the chemistry that exists on their teams and what their team needs to get them to that "next level."
There are a few teams, like the Nets, Warriors, Bulls and Lakers, that could benefit from bringing talent like Howard, and they also just so happen to be the teams that could offer the Magic the most in return for D12.
With the way things are going in Orlando, the Magic could go from being a playoff contender to a team vying for a lottery pick very quickly, especially if they keep Howard on their roster.
The way Howard is acting and playing isn't benefiting the Magic in anyway. It's taking the focus away from the rest of their playoff-caliber roster, and it's becoming a massive distraction for the entire organization.
Look at it this way, Orlando. Trading Howard right now could very well end any hopes you have of making the 2012 NBA playoffs, but at the same time, keeping Howard on your roster could result in the same exact fate.
Unloading Howard now would at least ensure he doesn't walk at the end of the 2011-12 season without getting anything for him in return, which would be the absolute last thing the Magic need.
Should the Magic trade away Dwight Howard in the next week?
Remember what happened to the Magic when they let Shaquille O'Neal walk in the summer of 1996?
Holding onto Howard for the entirety of the 2011-12 season and letting him walk at the end of it would lead the Magic to the exact same place letting O'Neal go in '96 led them—to being a team that missed the playoffs or made a first-round exit in the following 11 years.
Come on, Orlando—even a blind man could see that Howard putting on a No. 12 Orlando Magic jersey every night isn't what the Magic need right now.
The Magic need to trade away D12, and they absolutely need to do it right now.