With the entire team's near and perhaps distant future hanging on the line of center Dwight Howard, the Orlando Magic are going to have to do whatever is best for their team in the long run. If that is the case, continuing to try and convince D12 that Orlando is where he should be is only hurting their chances of trading him by the deadline.
According to Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, the Magic's CEO Alex Martins continues to believe that the team can convince the future free agent to continue his career in Florida with the team.
“We have a couple of weeks until the trade deadline, which is a critical point on the calendar to determine how we can move forward together,” Martins said of the ongoing Dwight saga. “Our conversations with Dwight continue, and I feel good about the conversations we’ve had. … I’ve said all along our reason for not trading Dwight at the beginning of the season is that time would be on our side one way or another. Time would be on our side in the fact that we could work with Dwight to address his needs and ultimately convince him to stay. Or time would work on our side in that if Dwight made the decision that he didn’t want to stay, we would have more time to talk to other teams about what trade possibilities exist.”
Martins goes on to discuss the situation involving Shaquille O'Neal, which saw the former No. 1 overall pick walk away from the city empty handed. If the team doesn't want that to be the case once again, they must stop focusing on trying to sign Howard, but rather package for some solid pieces to build their future around.
Any trade involving Howard will likely bring back a high-quality player, as well as multiple draft picks. That is the premium that any team should have to give up to get a premier player like Howard.
Considering his persistence to move and the way this whole situation has been going on, would anybody be shocked if Howard completely took the Magic out of the picture this offseason?
If Magic GM Otis Smith fails to move him, whether that is effort to keep him or they miss making a deadline deal, the Magic are going to be stuck in a similar situation that the Cleveland Cavaliers were in when LeBron James entered free agency.
No control of their assets.
It just doesn't seem likely that Orlando is where he wants to be, even if he has found plenty of success there over the past season. Fact is, this league is becoming fond on budding superstars put onto the same team and right now the Magic don't have the leverage to put such a player next to D12.
With Howard once again averaging ridiculous numbers—20.2 points and 15 rebounds per game—there is no clearer time to than now to trade No. 12.
With a team like the New Jersey Nets—who are on Howard's list—having Brook Lopez back, the team would be foolish to not try and make something happen. If the Magic can get the Nets' 2012 first-round pick, the team would likely be getting a lottery pick as the Nets stand at 11-25.
There is no doubt that moving Howard is a tough reality for not just the fans, but those who have heavily invested in him for this long. Those past investments must be clear to the team, and they have to move on from it now before it is too late.