Orlando Magic Need Some Insurance for Dwight Howard If They Can't Keep Him

Jason WaltnerContributor IFebruary 7, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 06:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic smiles during the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Amway Center on February 6, 2012 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 Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The Dwight Howard saga continues. He is stating that the trade request is remaining on the table.  Now, the issue is how will general manager Otis Smith fix the problem. It must be hard to sleep easy at night. In one hand, he has Dwight Howard, physical phenom and best player of his position, and he has the Orlando Magic organization. Smith will need to do what is best for who he is employed to and have insurance in case all does not go well. 

In a perfect world, Dwight will re-sign and all will be merry. However, this is not a perfect world. The Magic will hold onto Howard until the last minute of the deadline, which is March 15. They will want to have Howard in a Magic uniform when the 2012 All-Star game comes into town this Feb. 26. After that, there is no telling what will happen.

Again, Smith does not have an easy job here. He will need to determine what "fair value" is for Howard.

There are two strategies Smith has at his disposal, which both should include the contract of Hedo Turkoglu to help alleviate some cap space. One, he can try to trade for supreme talent. This would only land Orlando two or three players, and possibly a few future draft picks. Another thing that will come along with trading for supreme talent will typically be supreme contracts. 

One popular trade rumor was with the LA Lakers for Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Bynum has a team option of about $16 million upcoming for next season and would need to be signed to a new contract. That would command some big dollars, considering the market is very small for a true big man. Gasol is owed about $40 million over the next two seasons. As the numbers tell, this is an expensive alternative for an already cap-strapped team. 

The other option would be to trade Howard for solid, young talent, expiring contracts and a number of future first-round draft picks. This would allow for the Magic to completely revamp the lineup and begin the rebuilding process, but with a jump start. If Smith can select some quality young talent, along with drafting correctly, Orlando can seriously become a contending team in a matter of a few years. 

Smith's draft record has not been very good thus far, and the players he has traded for has been questionable. However, with a trade asset like Howard, there is no telling what will be thrown at Smith. 

As the Howard saga comes to a close in the next eight weeks, it will be interesting to see what  offers come to the Magic's front door. Hopefully, whoever Smith decides to send Howard to will bring some insurance for losing a dominant talent.