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The Orlando Magic must have been ignoring the Internet the past six months.
“Dwight Howard Trade Rumors” has been one of the most popular search terms since last season ended and with good reason. The best center in the NBA wants out and has even listed teams he would prefer to play for.
Magic Rumor: I was told by multiple sources that Otis Smith will "aggressively" pursue Steve Nash before the trade deadline.— Jarrod N Rudolph (@MisterRudolph) Feb. 26, 2012
Nash may be 38, but he is still putting up 13.9 points and 10.9 assists for a Phoenix Suns team that is extremely short on talent. He leads the league in assists while passing to guys like Josh Childress. He still has plenty in the tank.
Nash will never demand a trade and said he only wants to leave if the deal helps Phoenix (via ESPN). While the report didn’t state any players involved on the Magic’s side in this potential deal, you’d have to assume current point guard Jameer Nelson would be involved. His 2011-12 stats (9.3 PPG, 5.3 assists, 39-percent field-goal percentage) are the worst since his rookie year.
It seems as if he has let the constant trade rumors affect his game. A fresh start in the desert would do him a lot of good at this point.
Regardless of who the Magic would give up, it would make Howard at least think about staying. Every center dreams of playing with an unselfish guy like Nash, and the numbers of Howard would go through the roof.
All-Star weekend in Orlando was a reminder to Howard that despite his trade requests, the fans still love him. With a team currently sitting in fifth place in a top-heavy Eastern Conference, there is a realistic opportunity to secure the No. 3 seed with Nash on board.
It’s no secret the Magic have the look of a one-and-done team in this year’s playoffs as currently constructed. Something needs to change.
With the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets all desperately trying to trade for Howard and the Dallas Mavericks patiently waiting for the summer to land Howard, we have to remember he is still under the control of the Magic.
If Orlando truly believes they can convince him to stay with the only team he has ever known in warm weather with no taxes and the biggest deal he could get from any franchise…landing Nash is a move that has to be made.
Who knows, a Nash-Howard tandem may be good enough to challenge Miami and Chicago for Eastern Conference supremacy. The further the Magic go in the playoffs, the harder it would be for Howard to justify leaving.
That’s the goal for the Orlando front office at this point: ensure a deep playoff run to take away the “my team stinks” card. That’s the only one Howard can really use in his deck right now.
Nash takes that off the table.