Orlando Magic: How Dwight Howard's Trade Request Is Impacting the Team

Matt PasterCorrespondent IFebruary 8, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 24:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic walks downcourt after a turnover to the Atlanta Hawks during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 24, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  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 Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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You spend time talking about Chris Paul or Deron Williams, but what position do they play? It's the same position that [Nelson] plays. So it's not necessarily that [Howard] is directly throwing him under the bus, but he's indirectly throwing him under the bus.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Magic general manager Otis Smith had that to say while discussing Dwight Howard's recent comments in regards to a potential trade.

There aren’t many things that I agree with Smith on, but this is one of them. Howard, by saying he wants to be traded, is essentially saying to every player on the roster, “You’re not good enough; I don’t want to play with you.” He has thrown his whole team under the bus by saying I want to play with this player and that player, and it's wearing on the Orlando Magic men.

Dwight's "best friend" on the team, Jameer Nelson, is struggling across the board. His season numbers are down in almost every statistical category.

Nelson's 7.8 points per game are atrocious, considering he’s a shoot-first point guard, and his career-high 2.7 turnovers per game is not a fluke. He's obviously pushing the ball, trying to be someone he's not, and he is not the only player that has been affected by the request.

J.J. Redick, the ultimate team guy, has grown frustrated. When asked if Howard’s trade demand has affected the locker room, Redick didn't bite his tongue.

It has. Yeah, it has. 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.

Unfortunately for the Magic, they have the two-time defending technical-foul leader at the helm of the fragile-egg ship.

What’s most sickening about Dwight’s attempt to be a captain of the ship is that he called out his teammates after the 26-point loss to the Hornets.

In that game, he missed five free throws (which is very good for him), had four turnovers and missed seven shots.

I would never expect any player to hit 100 percent of their shots or 100 percent of their free throws, but Howard accounted for potentially 31 of those points—five points on free throws, 14 points on missed shots and eight-to-12 points on turnovers.

Coupling those deficiencies with the fact that he wants to play with other players doesn’t make his sorry attempt at motivating his team very effective. It sounded more to me like a lame excuse for wanting to leave.

In addition to his futile attempt to lead, it has to be disheartening for the rest of the team when he continues to bang free throws off the back of the rim and point the finger at the other players for not “stepping up.”

Ryan Anderson has stepped up, J.J. Redick has stepped up, and please excuse Jason Richardson for not stepping up, but he is a misfit in a system that doesn’t play transition basketball well. We all have deficiencies. Even you, Dwight.

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 28:  J.J. Redick #7 of the Orlando Magic reacts after missing a game-tying three-point basket in the final seconds against the Atlanta Hawks during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Philips Ar
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Magic lost three games by free throws that Dwight could have made. He missed five free throws in the Clippers game, and they lost by five. He missed eight in the Sixers game, and they lost by five. He missed four free throws in the Spurs game, and they lost by two.

He has missed 156 free throws thus far this year. That is more misses than all but eight players in the league have even attempted.

Adding to the misses at crucial times in the game, the offense cannot get into their rhythm because he gets fouled before the Magic can even get into their offensive set.

The Orlando Magic staff is too busy trying to make Howard happy—rather than doing what’s right for the team—and the rest of the team is struggling because of it.

Dwight Howard is trying to be a leader for the first time in his career. However, he’s throwing rocks in a glass house, and the players aren’t listening.