The Orlando Magic, arguably the most disheveled franchise in the entire association, will be heading into the offseason with a multitude of question marks.
None bigger, however, than their All-NBA franchise cornerstone, Dwight Howard. While there are still numerous uncertainties on the minds of the Magic brass, the Howard debacle will certainly possess a majority of their time.
After all, Howard has been Orlando's most dominant force since the days of Penny Hardaway and the former "Superman," Shaquille O'Neal.
Nonetheless, after a dismal playoff appearance against the third-seeded Indiana Pacers, the Orlando Magic already have major trade rumors, free agent news and draft buzz surrounding the franchise.
The decisions that will be determined will either put Orlando's roster back in the upper echelon or destroy the franchise, leaving the team to wait for another prodigy, much like Dwight Howard in 2004.
Reports have emerged that the Dwight Howard sweepstakes has been suspended and the Magic will retain their star center.
Sources: Orlando Magic have informed Dwight Howard that they are suspending trade talks in favor of finding next head coach.— Jarrod N Rudolph (@JRudolphSports) July 11, 2012
According to the general manager himself, the trade talks are exactly where they were before.
Magic GM Hennigan on reports that Howard trade talks have been suspended: "That's not accurate."
— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 11, 2012
While we never know what could be true and what could be falsified when it comes to trade talks, it'd be fair to offer the GM the benefit of the doubt. Trade talks are likely to be on until the day of the Trade Deadline in December.
Did anyone truly believe Howard was excited for his future in Orlando when the perennial All-Star decided to forgo his early termination option on his 12-13 contract?
The answer to that question is a resounding no!
Even during the press conference Howard looked regretful, as he possessed a scowl on his face and spoke in a monotone voice.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, our suspicions were correct. Dwight Howard wishes he could turn back the clock and not sign the document putting the franchise cornerstone in a blue and white jersey for one more season.
In fact, Howard's camp is applying pressure on the Orlando Magic franchise to pursue a deal when a new general manager has been hired.
On a similar note, Orlando's brass haven't made a decision regarding Howard's future with the organization.
This news comes days after a report from Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com saying Orlando is finally willing to deal the team's most valuable asset.
CEO Alex Martins, however, has stated publicly the team's desire not to continue the saga into the 2012-13 NBA season. In addition, Martins did mention an ultimatum presented to Howard that if the center doesn't sign a long-term contract extension, he will most likely be dealt.
Von Wafer, in limited minutes, produced quite nicely for the Orlando Magic, which makes this transaction quite a shock.
Many Orlando fans were calling for Wafer, who is a natural shooting guard, to assume Chris Duhon's backup point guard role.
Wafer, in his one-year tenure in Orlando, appeared in 33 games for the Magic and averaged nearly six points in 14 minutes per night.
Sound numbers for the former third-string guard.
Wafer's boundless energy and scoring prowess were great assets to Orlando that the Magic just didn't capture.
The former Florida State Seminole was waived on May 29, 2012.
Otis Smith was fired a few weeks ago
The Orlando Magic, after parting ways with former GM Otis Smith this past week, will being their search for a replacement.
From the Thunder, Orlando is set to interview both assistant general managers Troy Weaver, who helped convince Oklahoma City to draft point guard Russell Westbrook in the 2008 NBA draft, and Rob Hennigan.
The franchise is also interested in pursuing a deal with Dennis Lindsey, assistant general manager and team vice president of the Spurs.
All three of these candidates are viable options who would improve Orlando's front office. Just look at the success these organizations are having.
Not only did they both make the Western Conference finals, a difficult feat due to the immense depth in the conference, but possess two of the most promising rosters in the entire league.
Oklahoma City has set a new precedent on how to build a team through the draft, while the Spurs have beaten the odds and surrounded veteran Tim Duncan with a championship-caliber cast.
Other possibilities for the vacancy include David Morway, Mitch Kupchak, Jeff Bower and Kevin Pritchard, Ken Berger of CBS Sports reports.
The Orlando Magic made headlines a few weeks ago when a report was released listing Shaquille O'Neal as one of their top options to fill their vacant GM position.
While we don't know if Orlando was seriously considering the former dominant center, Shaq did release a statement denying any interest in the position.
“When I first heard about the vacancy for the Orlando Magic general manager position, I was clearly intrigued.” he said in a statement. “I was drafted by the Magic, I have a great love for the franchise, and I have made the city of Orlando my home. Additionally, I have great admiration and respect for the DeVos family. However, this is not a job I have an interest in pursuing. I feel very fortunate to be with TNT and to have the best job in sports. I look forward to many more years with Charles, Kenny and E.J. I wish the best for the Magic and I am confident that they will select a great GM and coach.”
Due to firing Stan Van Gundy, the Orlando Magic are preparing to search for a new head coach. Brian Shaw of the Indiana Pacers, Jerry Sloan and Mike D'Antoni have all been rumored to be interested in the vacancy.
Jerry Sloan, formerly of the Utah Jazz, is considered one of the best coaches in NBA history. When Sloan said a few weeks ago that the Magic position "would be very intriguing," Orlando must have become interested in the possible pairing.
The question is, however, Sloan's questionable record with star players, as he feuded consistently with Deron Williams in his tenure with Utah. Will Howard and Sloan be able to coexist together?
Brian Shaw, though, is quite the opposite of Jerry Sloan. The current assistant coach to the Indiana Pacers is quite young, compared to Sloan's 70, and is considered to be extremely player-friendly.
While Shaw's inexperience does raise up a few questions on how well he would handle his own team, the former point guard's great leadership skills would be quite valuable to the Orlando Magic franchise. Shaw, however, hasn't been contacted about the opening.
"Nothing has happened, so I'll cross that bridge if and when it happens," Shaw said. "I'm assuming they would have to take some time to find a general manager and do a coaching search after that. That will play out in due time."
Mike D'Antoni to Orlando would be quite enjoyable, to say the least. His run-and-gun style of offense would most likely translate well to the three-point happy Orlando Magic. His time in New York, much like Sloan, showed it may be difficult for him to put up with Dwight Howard's antics.
He will pursue the job, nonetheless.
While there are many competent coaches on the open market, the Orlando Magic have missed out on arguably the most talented. Of course, I am referring to Phil Jackson.
According to Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel, Jackson wasn't quite interested enough to pursue the job opportunity.
"For the past few days, Phil Jackson was interested in the possibility of joining the Magic's front office. Then, late Thursday afternoon, Jackson bowed out. Magic CEO Alex Martins was formally presented on Wednesday with a scenario involving Jackson by Sam Vincent, who played for the Magic and Jackson. 'It drew some interest from Phil,' Vincent said. 'But in the end, Phil decided to go with another opportunity.'
Jackson is apparently headed back to the NBA in some capacity, but he pulled out here before Martins had a chance to run it by owner Rich DeVos. Martins learned of Jackson's exit Thursday, but would not comment."
A gargantuan blow to a small-market Orlando team. Who knows, if Phil Jackson committed, Dwight Howard may have decided the Magic were the franchise for him.
The Orlando Magic worked out six draft prospects on May 30 team officials released.
The prospects include Moe Harkless from St. John’s, William Buford from Ohio State, Cameron Moore from UAB, Andrew Nicholson from St. Bonaventure, Darrion Pellum from Hampton and Jeff Taylor from Vanderbilt.
It is quite obvious to see that Orlando is searching for swingmen to replace both Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu.
Moe Harkless is undoubtedly the best player of the bunch, as he is projected to go in the mid-late first round. The 6'8" wing played one season for the Red Storm. He averaged 15.5 points per game on 45.2 percent shooting.
Orlando possesses the 19th and 49th overall picks in the draft, which will be held June 28.