After nearly five months, the NFL ended its lockout Monday. That may seem like a long time, but the only team activities missed were offseason training camps. The NBA may not be as fortunate with the lockout they are in.
Some players have already signed with foreign teams in anticipation of an extensive work stoppage. When the lockout is over, the Orlando Magic will have an interesting situation involving their star player Dwight Howard.
Howard is the best center in the league. This past season he won the Defensive Player of the Year for the third year in a row, and he can anchor a team on both sides of the ball. He has been loyal to the Magic from Day 1, but he is due to be a free agent in 2012 and wants to compete for championships.
The Magic will do everything in their power to keep Howard, but everyone saw the Deron Williams and Carmelo Anthony sagas last year. Instead of letting a disgruntled superstar become a free agent, trade him and get something in return.
Though they don't want Howard to leave, here is what I think it would take for the Magic to pull the trigger on a Howard trade.
Dwight Howard is no slouch. Depending on how you value each position, you can make the argument that Howard is even more vital to a championship team than Deron Williams or Carmelo Anthony.
The Utah Jazz received Devin Harris, Derrick Favors (a rookie with huge potential) and two first-round draft picks for Deron Williams.
The Denver Nuggets acquired Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, a first-round draft pick and other players for Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups.
The Magic will be looking for a deal similar to these and will be demanding a team's best players. Any team that gets him won't get him for cheap.
Dwight Howard has been pretty non-committal on whether he will stay with the Orlando Magic. One week he doesn't want to discuss it. The next week he needs more help from his supporting cast. The week after that he wants to stay in Orlando and build the dynasty Shaquille O'Neal couldn't.
Sorry to keep bringing up Carmelo Anthony, but the similarities are hard to avoid. Anthony stayed in the media until the Nuggets dealt him to the Knicks last year. He was such a distraction they couldn't wait until the end of the year to let him be a free agent.
If Howard wants to speed up his exit from Orlando, he can just say he's not going to re-sign with them. With this information, the Magic would then be forced to pull a "Utah"—by trading Howard early before he gets too much leverage in the situation.
Contrary to the previous slide, if Dwight Howard refuses to address questions about his future that could also speed up his exit strategy. But how is this possible if he is trying to avoid all the drama?
The answer is simple. Reporters and journalists are going to report their interactions with Howard whether he gives them valuable information or not. Howard staying quiet would give them more flexibility for creativity in their stories.
Without a definite "I want to stay in Orlando" or "I want to play somewhere else," it is up to the journalist to come up with the content for their story. To do this, they may use Howard's body language during the interview as an indication. An even worse method, the reporter could use the famous "sources inside the organization say Dwight is leaning toward..." line.
Even with Howard being uncooperative, speculation would run wild. Almost every journalist outside of Orlando would say his silence tells us everything we want to know.
And please don't let Howard say, "We'll just wait and see what happens." To a journalist, that's code for "I'm not happy here" and something better change.
The media frenzy surrounding the unknowns about Howard's future would drive the Magic to believe he is sure to leave them when the season is over.