You've probably heard about the rumors of a Howard trade since the beginning of the season, and at this point it seems as though every team in the league is in the bidding for the all-star center.
The countless scenarios have presented themselves week after week and the Magic have gone back on forth with the possibility of trading away the face of their franchise.
As a fan, you may be hoping your team is in the mix for the charismatic big man, but are you also willing to part ways with a number of your team's best players? Orlando has said that a deal for Howard would ultimately come down to the right offer, and if the right players aren't on the table then keeping him would be their best option.
Take a second to fill the shoes of a Magic executive and ask yourself what you would want in return for one of the NBA's elite players. Are you in the wrong for being picky and wanting everything but the kitchen sink for such a player? Absolutely not. In fact, I believe the Magic have every right to hold onto Howard if the right offer doesn't come their way.
Howard has publicly expressed his interest in leaving the Magic to play with whatever team he happens to land with, but allowing him to have his say in the deal isn't in the best interest of Orlando: Getting the best possible deal in return should be the main goal of the Magic and missing out on trading Howard shouldn't scare them into making a rash decision.
The 6-time all-star has continued to play well despite the off-the-court hoopla and Howard doesn't seem like the type of player who would create drama if not traded.
As of right now, the Magic are in line for a postseason bid and sending away Howard at the deadline could potentially kill any hope of making the playoffs in 2012. The big man is averaging close to 21 points and 15 rebounds each night this season and that production is what's keeping this team afloat. Making the playoffs should be the top priority for the Magic right now, and I'm sure fans are thinking the same thing.
Unless a deal can be made to replace Howard's production, I don't think the Magic should give him up and sacrifice the rest of their season. Ideally the Magic would love to get a guy who can produce big numbers all by himself, but getting a group of young talented players is a definite possibility as well. You're already giving up a young star in Howard, so why not plan for the future and get back a few young guys who could blossom into stars at some point?
Thinking about this situation reminded me a lot of the 2004 trade that sent Shaquille O'Neal to the Miami Heat for Brian Grant, Caron Butler and Lamar Odom. O'Neal was obviously displeased with the thought of playing with the Los Angeles Lakers any longer and thus the Lakers rushed into a deal that turned sour in the end.
LA received an aging big man in 34-year-old Grant and two fairly young players in Butler and Odom. The problem with Odom was he had a bad reputation looming over him at the time with off-the-court stuff and there were doubts he could continue to play well under the bright lights of LA. Butler was traded a year later and Grant eventually washed out before he was sent to the Boston Celtics two years later, leaving Odom as the sole piece of that deal.
The Lakers had their run with Odom, and you could make the case that he was a positive addition to the team in the long run, but as a whole that deal never really paid dividends. One player remained and the other two were temporary replacements.
The Magic would be smart to avoid that same type of situation and really think about the deals that come their way.
It's a lot like buying a car: If you you have a pretty reliable car already but decide to look into getting a new one, then you're obviously not going to part ways with your old car unless you get the right deal. If you don't like what's being offered, then you get up and walk away.
At the end of the day you still have that car running like a beauty, and you didn't come away with something you're not happy with.
Let's just hope that Magic front office can say "no thank you" before a potential yes lands them into future troubles.