Dwight Howard: Magic Must Deal Giant Distraction to Help New Coach Jacque Vaugh
Now that the Orlando Magic's long head-coaching search has come to an end with the hiring of Jacque Vaughn, the front office owes it to the new coach to find a potential suitor for disgruntled center Dwight Howard and make a deal happen in the immediate future.
According to Mike Fisher of FOXSportsSouthwest.com, Magic general manager Rob Hennigan and Dallas Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson met last week about a potential trade for Howard, and are likely to talk again soon, although a timetable wasn't set.
The Mavs are considered a top contender to ink Howard should he test free agency next offseason, but few consider them to be a possible trade partner. It is hard to imagine the Mavericks conjuring up an offer that can match a potential Los Angeles Lakers package, which would almost certainly include center Andrew Bynum.
That isn't to say that Dallas acquiring Howard is an impossibility, but it is a big underdog in that regard. No matter how well or poorly negotiations with the Mavericks go, the Magic need to end the D12 charade and make a deal so Vaughn can move on and see exactly what type of team he has to work with.
Although the Magic look decent on paper right now, a lot would change with a Howard deal, as the big man in the middle would be gone, possibly along with salary-cap albatrosses such as Jason Richardson. Also, several new players would be coming in, and it would change the entire complexion of Orlando's roster.
What should the Magic do with Dwight Howard?
Holding on to Howard until the trade deadline, which seems like a real possibility, would be a terrible idea. It would rob Vaughn and the organization of more than half a year that could have been spent developing team chemistry. Howard would be nothing other than a distraction, and he would unquestionably halt all progress until he is officially out of the picture.
Apparently the Magic haven't received an offer to their liking yet, but when you're dealing one of the league's best players, you're never going to get fair value anyway. I highly doubt that the offers are going to improve between now and the deadline, either, so holding onto Howard is delaying the inevitable, and the longer they do it, the greater the chances are that they hang onto him and lose him for nothing.
If the Lakers truly are offering Bynum, as has been speculated, then Orlando should quit messing around. The main concern is that Bynum hasn't shown any commitment in terms of signing an extension either, so the Magic could be at risk if they trade for him. Bynum is perhaps the second-best center in the league, though, and is young enough that he can still develop and get better.
No matter what Howard is traded for, the Magic are going to get worse. Picking up Bynum in a swap would accelerate the rebuilding process, though. The worst thing that Orlando can do is prolong this drama, and the organization must allow Vaughn to start with a clean slate.
There is no future for the Magic with Howard, and the sooner Hennigan and the rest of the brass comes to that realization, the sooner Vaughn and the team as a whole can move on to the next chapter.
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