Dwight Howard has one more year remaining on his contract with the Orlando Magic. The Magic need to make a decision surrounding his future this off season or risk a Carmelo Anthony like circus during their 2011-12 season. The will ‘Melo be traded or won’t he dominated the consciousness of the Denver Nuggets for far too long. I doubt Orlando’s management will want to be stuck in a similar situation.
Dwight Howard is as big a star as there is in the NBA, but he’s on record as saying he wants to play with another superstar player. The recent trend in the NBA is pairing a couple studs up together and if you can’t do it via free agency you do it via trade. I think the Los Angeles Lakers have the ammo and the desire to get a deal done.
Kobe Bryant isn’t old, but he does have a lot of basketball miles on his body, so finding another player that can be “The Man” on occasion for L.A. makes sense. The window on being a title team for Bryant is still open. Pau Gasol is a fantastic player, but he isn’t Superman. The Lakers were just swept away by the Dallas Mavericks and they are losing the Zen Master Phil Jackson, so making a splashy move this off season fits the bill for owner Dr. Jerry Buss.
The Magic will not get equal value back for Howard. That’s just a given. Teams that trade a guy like that never do, but to get something for him rather than him walking as a free agent makes the most sense for the franchise. They might need to get a third team involved, as the Magic would want some high draft picks and/or young talent in return, and the Lakers would have to take on a player or two they don’t really covet to make the salary match up.
There’s still a chance Orlando could keep Howard and bring in an All Star to play alongside him, but once they exhaust that option, they need to move him quickly. No point in letting that linger over the franchise.