Carmelo Anthony to New York: Could This Lead to Dwight Howard on L.A. Lakers?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IFebruary 22, 2011

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 08:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic reacts to a foul during the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Amway Arena on February 8, 2011 in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard must hear the clock ticking down on his time in Florida.

The Magic already trail Boston, Miami and Chicago in the East standings, and now that Carmelo Anthony has taken his talents to New York, the competition just got a little stiffer.

Anthony's decision may be the extension of a trend that started when LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in Miami, and now that the water has began to trickle, you can likely expect a future flood of free agents pursuing the same avenues.

New Orleans point guard Chris Paul, Utah point guard Deron Williams and Howard are the next tier of high-profile players who face an impending decision, and you can expect them to make their choices based on recent events.

New York, Miami and Los Angeles will likely make the strongest push for Paul and Williams, and the same group of teams with the addition of Chicago will likely be in the hunt for Howard's services.

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The common thread among those teams is that they represent some of the largest media markets in the NBA, and the residual effects of Anthony and the South Beach trio's respective decisions could be an end to parity in the league.

There is little doubt that Paul, Williams and Howard will make decisions based on their best opportunity to compete for a championship, and that immediately puts their current teams at a disadvantage.

Howard is considered to be the gem of 2012's free agency class, and there have been rumors that the Lakers would be one of his primary suitors once he becomes available.

There is a precedent when it comes to Orlando centers departing Disney World for Los Angeles, and Howard could have just as big an impact as Shaquille O'Neal.

The Lakers have thus far been reluctant to entertain trade overtures directed towards center Andrew Bynum, but would they feel the same way if the other player on the end of the deal was Howard?

Furthermore, you can be sure that Magic general manager Otis Smith has played close attention to the proceedings going on between Denver and New York.

There is little chance that Smith can hijack the Lakers the way that Denver did New York, but potentially receiving Bynum and a few other players for Howard is better than losing him for nothing at all.

And the chances of Orlando losing Howard increase exponentially with Anthony signing in New York.

It's doubtful that Smith can convince players like Paul and Williams to join Howard in Orlando because the lure of major markets and multiple elite teammates may be too much to overcome.

The Magic do have a financial edge since they can match the offer of any potential suitor, but during this new revolutionary age of the NBA, money may not hold as much weight as it once did.

But the chance to join Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and possibly Chris Paul in Tinseltown could.

The Miami Heat and Anthony have illuminated the path to future NBA title contention, but will Howard follow that lighted path to Los Angeles?


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