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Magic owner Richard DeVos (who incidentally is from my hometown of Holland, Michigan) can claim until he is blue in the face that he doesn't want to trade Howard and is confident he can re-sign him.
But he can't. Howard sees the state of the franchise, and it isn't good. They have way too much money tied up in mediocre talent.
Not including Howard, the Magic have about $45 million committed for next year on a team that is solid at best.
When Howard has the chance to move to a team that can contend, why would he re-up with a team that is at least a few pieces away?
The big names certainly will be involved, but I think it is a long shot that the Lakers will get him. Golden State could be a team that gets in the mix considering the amount of young talent they have, or perhaps one of the middling teams like Memphis or Sacramento will take the plunge even if it seems unlikely that Howard will re-sign.
It all comes down to how the market shapes up. If Orlando isn't offered fair market value for Howard, they will have a hard choice to make. Do they trade him for much less than he is worth, or do they roll the dice and hope he stays?
I think that the Magic will not necessarily get fair market value for him, but they should get a solid package. My dark horse for Howard is Indiana. They are under the cap so they can absorb his salary much more than most teams out there can.
But can they convince him to stay?