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Step One: Make a Major Play to Acquire Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic
Spurs Trade: Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Tiago Splitter, Matt Bonner, Picks and Cash
Magic Trades: Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson and Von Wafer
TNT talking head Charles Barkley declared the Spurs the best team in the Western Conference. Which is the equivalent of Barkley’s past prediction that Kobe Bryant wasn’t capable of ever averaging 30 points per game in a mere 7 game playoff series. That is to say, a ridiculously insane prediction.
The only chance the Spurs, as constructed, have to win the NBA title this season is if the opposing team's superstar in each playoff round they advance to is injured, period. The Spurs could indeed beat the Lakers sans Kobe Bryant, Thunder sans Kevin Durant, Heat sans Lebron James or Bulls sans Derrick Rose. But if any of those four players are healthy, the Spurs have no chance beating their respective teams in a 7 game playoff series, no chance at all. Despite Charles Barkley's declaration of Spurs dominance, the fact is, the Spurs as constructed are done being an elite team.
However, with a Dwight Howard and Tim Duncan pairing, the Spurs would at least present matchup problems for every team in the league. And if the Spurs happen to avoid the Lakers in the playoffs, they just might find themselves in the hunt for a championship.
Before we consider why the Spurs would propose such a trade and what their ultimate goal would be in doing so, it would be wise to consider whether the Orlando front office would agree to such a proposal. I believe they would and my reasoning is as follows:
Orlando Magic owner Richard DeVoss, Sr. has made it clear that he wants the Magic to compete for and win an NBA championship during his lifetime (he will turn 86 years of age around the trading deadline this season) and that he has no interest in trading Dwight Howard to begin a massive rebuilding program or youth movement. He wants to win, now! This said, while most talking heads feel the Magic will demand Hedo Turkoglu be a part of any Howard trade in order to shed his salary from their books. But unless the Magic can get a quality starting small forward in return, this writer does not believe including Turkoglu is a “must” for the Magic or their owner.
If DeVoss truly wants to win now, trading Howard, the little used Von Wafer and a point guard who seems likely to opt out of his contract next season and leave the Magic with nothing anyways, (as in Jameer Nelson), for a package including All-Star point guard Tony Parker, Argentinian legend and shooting guard Manu Ginobili, future star center Tiago Splitter, a quality locker room presence and “stretch 4” in Matt Bonner, a bevy of picks and $3 million in cash would be quite a windfall for the Magic's tortured franchise.
It is being reported that the Magic are trying to do everything they can to bring in another star to play alongside Dwight Howard, in hopes they can convince him to sign a long-term extension. However, what is not being reported is that Orlando has perhaps the worst financial roster in the entire league and the only player with any real trade value to speak of other than Howard is Ryan Anderson, a player the Magic would like to hold onto.
Monta Ellis is not headed to Orlando for a garbage package of Jameer Nelson and JJ Redick. Steve Nash is not headed to Orlando for the same package, mostly due to the financial ramifications Phoenix would face. Joe Johnson is the one star player I do believe the Magic could land with a trade package of Nelson, Redick, Earl Clark and Von Wafer for Johnson and former Magic Tracy McGrady. However, I doubt such a deal happens either as even super-spender Magic GM Otis Smith may balk at taking on Joe Johnson's massive salary.
What I believe will happen with Dwight Howard is that he will play out the year with the Magic and then leave with nothing in the offseason while signing with the Nets or Mavs. It will be the Shaquille O'Neal summer horror of 96' all over again for Orlando ... unless they trade Howard before this year's trade deadline on March 15th!
The above said, if Magic GM Otis Smith is smart, he will trade Howard for the best package he can get. With Howard reportedly refusing to sign an extension with teams such as the Lakers and Warriors, the Magic may need to accept a lesser package from a team willing to take a risk on trading for a half-season rental of Dwight Howard, and hoping to convince him to sign in the offseason. The San Antonio Spurs should be such a team.