Dwight Howard: Orlando Magic Must Trade Superman Before It's Too Late

Ethan NorofCorrespondent IFebruary 3, 2012

It's time for Howard to move on with another team.
It's time for Howard to move on with another team.

The Orlando Magic have until the March 15 trade deadline to accommodate Dwight Howard's request to join another team.

If the team allows the date to come and go without making a move that ships Howard out of town, it will be a defining moment in general manager Otis Smith's career that he'll never forget.

There has been a lot of dissenting though, as to whether or not the Magic should trade Howard. Unless the team is prepared to let him walk out the door for nothing in return, there is no other option on the table.

Some will argue that Orlando can offer him more money than other teams can in free agency.

While this is true under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, many are quick to overestimate the role money plays for Howard at this point in his career.

A bona fide superstar in this league, Howard has a lucrative endorsement deal from Adidas.

He's one of the most marketable players that the NBA has to offer, and Howard is going to get a maximum pay day no matter what uniform he's wearing across his chest.

Howard has earned more than $65 million in just salary, and far too often the money is overstated as the primary motivating factor in trying to decipher what a player is going to do in regards to his future.

He has said time and time again that his primary focus is to win a championship.

Why? Because Howard understands great players are not defined by the amount of money they collect during the course of their careers. They're defined by winning at the highest level and enjoying sustained success against the elite competition in the league.

This trade saga has gone on long enough for the Magic.

It has clearly had an impact on his team's play, the attitude of his teammates and the overall aura of basketball in Orlando.

J.J. Redick recently offered the following after Orlando's disheartening loss to Philadelphia when asked about whether or not Howard's trade situation had impacted the play of the team:

"Yeah, it is. I’ve said since the beginning: As long as he’s here, it will be a distraction because it’s all anybody talks about when they talk about our team. We don’t hear it? Of course we do."

“Chemistry is a very fragile thing, the team dynamic of how guys rely on each other, how guys trust each other. All that stuff is very fragile."

Some criticized Redick for his comments, but he hits the nail on the head when it comes to the elephant in the room.

ESPN's Chris Broussard advocated that it's finally time for Howard to force Orlando's hand and call for a trade to be concocted, and he's right.

"It's time for Dwight Howard to stop worrying about LeBron James' public fall from grace; about how "The Chosen One" went from being America's most beloved athlete to perhaps its most disliked.

Howard's dance with the Orlando Magic appears to be more about public relations maneuvers rather than basketball."

Now, the latest "twist" in the Howard story is that March 1 is decision day.

That is the first day that players who were signed to free-agent contracts in the offseason are eligible to be traded—an important date for the Magic and the pursuit to satisfy Howard's wish to play elsewhere.

Howard informed the Orlando front office prior to training camp that there were three teams on his preferred list: Los Angeles Lakers, New Jersey Nets and Dallas Mavericks.

That list remains unchanged, despite rampant speculation to the contrary.

With 85-year-old owner Rich De Vos uninterested in undertaking a rebuilding project, the Magic prefer to bring back "multiple established veterans" who can keep them competitive in the wake of losing Howard.

It's not about future draft picks. It's not about youthful prospects. It's about the Magic having a legitimate shot of competing after Howard is no longer in the fold.

Orlando is not the best team in the Eastern Conference, nor is it the best team in its own division.

Nothing short of a championship will keep Howard in town, and it's highly unlikely this Orlando team pus a run together that is magical enough to result in hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

It's time to move forward.