How Orlando Magic Played the Dwight Howard Trade Market Completely Wrong
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The Rolling Stones famously sang: "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well you just might find, you get what you need."
The Orlando Magic's drawn-out, protracted trade negotiations for Dwight Howard resulted in the Magic not only not getting what they wanted, but they didn't get what they needed either.
While new Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan will absorb blame for the blockbuster trade that was agreed upon on Thursday Night, the blame really lies in the laps of the Magic's owners.
It was Magic executive Alex Martins who cow-towed to Dwight Howard's demands throughout a tumultuous spring. It was Martins who fired now-former General Manager Otis Smith, and former head coach Stan Van Gundy. Both terminations were likely made to appease Dwight Howard.
In the end it was never enough. Not enough for Howard, who constantly changed his mind, from demanding a one-way ticket out of Orlando, to re-upping for an additional season with the stated intent to play in Orlando next season and try and win a title, and all the way back to another demand to be shipped out of town.
As the clock wore down on Howard's time in Orlando, other NBA teams knew full well that the Magic were in an untenable situation.
They could hold onto Howard, who would return next season without a supporting cast good enough to win an NBA Title. Howard would file for free agency next summer and sign with an opposing team, which would leave the Magic without any compensation at all for the league's best center.
They could also try and orchestrate a mid-season trade at next winter's trade deadline. Trading Howard at that point would likely get the Magic less, not more in return. The reason? The team that would receive Howard would only be assured of a few months of his services.
Howard has been so vocal about his preferred destinations that he has hampered the Magic's leverage in negotiations.
He reportedly wanted to be dealt to the Brooklyn Nets. It was the Nets who one month ago reportedly made the Magic an offer far better than what they ultimately received for Howard. Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski reports that deal included Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and four first round draft picks.
That's not just slightly better than what the Magic eventually received, it's a lot better. Orlando gets Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, and three protected first round draft picks in the trade that was reportedly agreed upon Thursday Night.
Lopez in not Dwight Howard, but he's a skilled offensive big man who is still young. Humphries is one of only eight NBA players to average a double-double in points and rebounds in the 2011-2012 NBA Season. MarShon Brooks is a second-year shooting guard coming off an impressive rookie campaign that was mainly diminished by injuries.
There was also an additional first round pick included in that deal.
The Magic kept pushing for more though. The Brooklyn Nets became concerned that they could lose Lopez, or have to face the consequences of him signing an offer sheet with another team, so they backed out of negotiations with Orlando for Howard, and signed Lopez to a long-term contract.
Once that happened, the Magic were literally left high and dry. By signing Lopez to that deal, the Nets would be unable to include him a trade until January 15, 2013.
The Magic waited. They kept waiting for Howard to finally profess his loyalty to the organization and the city of Orlando, except it never happened. So instead of maximizing their value for Howard, they had to settle.
The deal they finally agreed to may very well have been the best offer they would have gotten between now and next summer when Howard's current one-year deal would expire and he would become an unrestricted free-agent.
It's a classic case of a team overvaluing their own player. The Magic clearly assumed that the Nets, and possibly other NBA teams would do whatever it took to land Howard. In the end that wasn't the case.
The Lakers waited patiently, and were rewarded by having to part with only a player they clearly were not as enamored with as they had hinted they were.
Perhaps in the end it was the Lakers out-bluffing the Magic. It doesn't matter anymore. The Lakers got what they wanted. The Magic? They got neither what they wanted (another center to replace Howard), or what they needed (the best deal they could get for him). They settled.
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