Should Orlando Magic Fans Be Excited About Post-Dwight Howard Era?
Yes, why not? Just because your team turned Dwight Howard into Arron Afflalo doesn't preclude you from looking forward to a clean slate.
Despite all the video breakdowns of just how Howard will look in that spiffy Lakers offense, there is a dark cloud hanging over the optimism. Right, now, nobody knows when Howard is actually coming back. The Lakers released a statement on August 27, claiming that Howard was not cleared for weight training or basketball. Since then, it's been radio silence.
Perhaps Los Angeles isn't sweating the wait. The Lakers can probably re-sign Howard, even if his season in Los Angeles doesn't go swimmingly.
But imagine if Orlando had kept Howard. He'd currently be out, and perhaps suffering diminished trade value. It's one thing to trade a player with a season-ending injury and another to shop a guy whose ailment is straddling two seasons.
This is not to say that I loved the deal Orlando made. I didn't, and I believe that it should have waited for a better option—even if that meant eventually trying to re-sign Howard in 2013.
What I am saying, is that this at least presents a clean break from the past. Simply put, the Magic stink. They stink like the Cleveland Cavaliers stunk. They stink like the New Orleans Hornets stunk. While there is no guarantee that Orlando will receive similar NBA lottery luck as those two aforementioned squads, their fans can at least look forward to building something new.
The Magic have been in a stasis of trying to appease Howard while shuffling bad contracts. The process had grown a bit tiresome, even before Dwight's self-imposed, protracted drama.
In this way, while Orlando fans would be unreasonable to expect Cleveland or New Orleans luck, they are leaving a much worse situation. LeBron's departure came as a bit of a shock. Chris Paul handled his business relatively quietly, as the team trundled along, unowned.
In contrast, the Dwight Howard situation was a lengthy, ridiculous game theory nightmare. Fans can look forward to at the very least, never experiencing something like this ever again.
While I would not advocate dreaming upon Arron Afflalo's star, he's an enjoyable player to watch and is quite helpful in his "three and D" role. I don't have high hopes for Moe Harkless, but I do like Nikola Vucevic's game. He's a 21-year-old center with good post moves. He has the potential to be a starting big with the right grooming (obviously, not at Dwight's level, but it's always fun to track young talent).
Finally, Orlando expects to have a host of mid-level draft picks in the coming years (either four or five between now and 2017). Nobody can know what will become of this young talent, but at least the future is uncertain.
The Magic will be bad today, but there are positives among the negative. The NBA often rewards its worst teams. Orlando has bottomed out, which could be the first step towards getting back to where the Magic were in 2009.
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