The way I see it, there are only two ways this Dwight Howard situation can play out and both of them involve Howard being shipped out of Orlando before the March 15 trade deadline.
The Magic’s management is too smart to let the trade deadline pass without a commitment from Howard. It was over 15 years ago now, but it is still fresh in their minds how things turned out when they were in a similar situation with Shaquille O’Neal and let him leave for Los Angeles.
I believe they will trade Howard before the deadline; it just depends on if they will give in to Howard’s demands or if they are stubborn and settle for a last-second offer.
According to a source close to Howard, his preferred destinations are the Mavericks, Lakers or Nets. The smart move for the Magic would be to play the teams on Howard’s list against each other in order to maximize what they are offered in return.
Mark Cuban and Mikhail Prokhorov would both love to add a superstar to their roster and have proven they are willing to do whatever it takes to get what they want. Also, you know that the Lakers are still disappointed about what happened with Chris Paul, so they are eager to make a trade for another superstar.
If the Magic use all of this to their favor and pursue deals with these teams, it can lead to a lengthy bidding war and a great deal for the Magic.
What I believe is going to happen though, is Orlando is going to sit back and wait to see who makes the best offer to them. This can backfire on them though since every team knows the Magic will eventually get desperate to trade Howard as the deadline nears and would have to settle for whatever they can get. The Magic will be in an even worse position if Howard eventually decides to be persistent on where he wants to go and tries to force his way to a certain team.
My prediction is this is what is going to end up happening and Howard will follow in Shaq’s footsteps to the Los Angeles Lakers. They have the pieces to send the Magic in return and should be aggressive to try and get a deal done. In the end, the Lakers will land Howard and another large salary player, most likely Hedo Turkoglu, and the Magic will receive one of the Lakers’ two big men, salary relief and draft picks, sending them into rebuilding mode once again.