Let's face it, any team that would have acquired Howard at the trade deadline would have been gutted as D12 would command a kingly ransom. No team, as it turns out, was rich enough for the Magic to trigger a deal.
The New Jersey Nets would have still lacked depth even if Howard was paired with Deron Williams and Brook Lopez. The Chicago Bulls would have lost two out of three starters (Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer) as well as picks. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers would never let Andrew Bynum go.
As for free agency, Howard would lose out on the Lakers and Bulls as they already have strong frontcourts. The only viable options would be the Nets or Dallas Mavericks, and the Mavs would only work if D-Will would come over too.
For these reasons, right now, the Magic offer Howard the best chance to win an NBA championship.
Orlando is No. 3 in the Eastern Conference playoff seeding at a healthy 28-16. The Magic have also defeated the East's elite teams in the Bulls (99-94 on the road on March 8) and the Miami Heat (104-98 at home on Tuesday in overtime.).
Howard was stupendous in those games, getting 29 points and 18 boards against the Bulls and 24 points and 25 boards against the Heat.
The Magic have a solid core of Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Ryan Anderson, Hedo Turkoglu and J.J. Redick. Many of these players were on the Magic's 2009 NBA Finals team and have the ability to return and win a title.
With these players, and with Howard on top of his game as he was against Miami and Chicago, they could go far into the NBA playoffs.
As for the offseason, the Magic would be wise to pursue free agents. With Howard staying for at least another year, Orlando could indeed attract top free agents.
Howard made the right choice in staying with the Magic, and he could see an NBA title soon because of that choice.