By the time I'm finished writing this article, there's no telling what team Dwight Howard will be on. However, there's only one team he should be a part of—the Houston Rockets.
With so much uncertainty surrounding Howard and his status in Orlando, let's take inventory on what we know: We know that Howard wants to be traded (for now), we know the Orlando Magic need to deal Howard after he denied management's latest plea to drop his trade request and we know that the Houston Rockets are willing to give up the farm to get the big man, according to ESPN's Marc Stein and Chad Ford.
While Houston may be the most logical trade partner for the Magic, that doesn't necessarily mean Howard will sign an extension with Houston past the upcoming 2012-2013 season.
Let's first look at why the Magic should send Howard to the Rockets.
Houston can offer Orlando the highest amount of talent in exchange for the six-time NBA All-Star. According to Stein and Ford of ESPN, the Rockets would send Kevin Martin, Patrick Patterson, Chandler Parsons and Marcus Morris, as well as the draft rights to Jeremy Lamb, Royce White and Terrence Jones (all first-round draft picks) to Orlando in order to get Howard.
Not to mention that the Rockets would reportedly be willing to include multiple future first-round picks in the deal. No other team can match that array of young talent and future picks.
What is the best deal for the Orlando Magic?
Salary Cap Space
After the news that the Rockets amnestied Luis Scola, Houston suddenly has approximately $21 million off the books. In the newly-offered deal, the Rockets would absorb the contracts of Chris Duhon, Jason Richardson, Glen Davis and Hedo Turkoglu—something the Magic have been adamant about.
Other suitors for Howard—the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets—in no way, shape or form have the cap space to take those contracts off of Orlando's hands.
As it stands, the Magic would receive some elite, young talent while shedding millions of dollars from their payroll for years to come—sounds like a pretty good deal.
Another reason the Magic should pull the trigger on Houston's offer is it would send him to the Western Conference, eliminating the possibility of Howard raking havoc on Orlando in the playoffs (unless they meet in the Finals).
While management often put too much stock into attempting to ship their superstar to the opposite conference, it does deserve some attention.
As stated earlier, if and when Howard arrives in Houston and plays out the 2012-2013 season, there's no guarantee he will sign any sort of extension with the Rockets.
In fact, with the current state of the Rocket's roster in flux and Howard's public announcement that he will only sign an extension with the Nets suggests he will walk after this upcoming season. And here's why.
Lack of Surrounding Talent
With Houston giving up nearly all of its young talent in order to bring in the five-time Defensive Player of the Year, there will be no co-star for Howard to run with. With the incorporation of Duhon, Richardson, Davis and Turkoglu in the deal, the 2012 Rockets would essentially be the 2011 Orlando Magic.
Do you really think Howard would be willing to sign a multi-year extension only to play with the same core group of players he did in Orlando?
Howard has made it clear he wants to play in a large market—preferably Brooklyn or Los Angeles. As nice a city as Houston is, it can't compete with the aforementioned cities when it comes to market size.
In fact, Houston is more like Orlando than it is L.A. or New York. And Orlando's limited market size is one of the key reasons that Howard has requested a trade from the Magic.
While nobody knows where Howard will end up, one thing we do know is that previously golden reputation is now forever tarnished. And his happy-go-lucky attitude now seems fabricated rather than refreshing.