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The Orlando Magic don't want to lose Dwight Howard. Team owner Rich DeVos, soon to turn 86, has no interest in slogging through another rebuild.
But, in purely basketball terms, GM Otis Smith has little choice but to get something for his franchise star before this whole fiasco turns into Shaquille O'Neal Part 2.
And Smith gets canned.
Howard has long been rumored to prefer a move to the New Jersey Nets, where he'd pair with Deron Williams as the team prepares for its long-awaited move to Brooklyn.
The Los Angeles Lakers would appear to be the best available trade partner for the Magic, seeing as how they'd be able to offer two top-tier bigs (Andrew Bynum and/or Pau Gasol) for the best pivot man in basketball today.
The Dallas Mavericks, meanwhile, are hoping that Howard hits free agency and entertains a potential move to the Metroplex with D-Will, thereby validating the strategy by Mark Cuban and GM Donnie Nelson to clear cap space for a Big Three in Big D, Dirk Nowitzki included.
All of this being said, the Magic still have a shot to keep Howard for the long haul. He's waffled several times over whether or not he actually wants out, which makes sense considering how well the organization and the city know him and have treated him (for the most part).
Still, the odds of Howard sticking around are slim, as are the options for the cap-strapped Magic to fill the void if he walks. Trading away a superstar is never an easy thing to do, but if there's any team that knows the downside of not pulling the trigger in such a situation, it's the Magic.