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Dwight this. Dwight that.
Needless to say, there’s been a lot of Dwight Howard talk already and the season hasn’t even started yet. Magic fans better get used to it because things are going to be like this for the foreseeable future until Howard decides on his future.
In the meantime, while everyone else is busy talking about Howard, there’s other topics to talk about and we at Magic Basketball feel it’s time to chime in on some of the more pressing issues surrounding the Orlando Magic. Not only do we offer our thoughts on Howard, of course, but we also speculate on the future of general manager Otis Smith and Gilbert Arenas.
Fact or Fiction: Otis Smith will be the general manager of the Orlando Magic beyond the 2011-2012 season.
Nate Drexler: Fact. The fact that he will have the option to amnesty Gilbert Arenas, and thereby erasing the most glaring mistake he has ever made means he could once again be beloved. Gilbert was a step back, but I think Otis Smith is ready to bring in a heavy hitter to re-secure his position as general manager.
Danny Nowell: Fiction. I really think the only way Otis retains his seat is by pulling off a trade for one of the two superstar point guards soon to be on the market. If he swings a great deal for Dwight that involves a lot of picks, he could buy another year to see if he could rebuild the roster for a new era.
Eddy Rivera: Fiction. The Orlando Magic are in the position that they’re in because Smith made the calculated decision to overhaul a roster that was an elite team and championship contender. Twice. The question is whether or not the DeVos family will allow Smith to start fresh. Based on his track record, Smith doesn’t deserve the opportunity to do so.
What will it take for the Magic to realistically re-sign Dwight Howard to a contract extension?
Drexler: Once again, I look for the amnesty of Gilbert Arenas. Once you get rid of that contract, it gives you a ton of breathing room to acquire some major pieces. In all honesty, Dwight needs a semi-big-time-scoring-guard. If not, Dwight walks, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone. You simply can’t compete with the current lineup.
Nowell: I’m considering Dwight gone unless Chris Paul or Deron Williams come to town, which it seems would require a massive and creative series of deals at this point. I think Dwight wants to build himself into a personality and icon, and I think he (incorrectly) feels that to be all but impossible in Orlando.
Rivera: It’s too late (unless Smith somehow lands Chris Paul or Deron Williams in a trade). Right now, the Magic need to cut their losses and do whatever it takes to get the most value back in a Howard trade. The last thing the franchise needs is a repeat of 1996, where it took years for them to recover after Shaquille O’Neal left them with nothing.
Do you amnesty Gilbert Arenas right away or wait and see if he has anything left in the tank?
Drexler: For all the torture Hibachi has put Orlando through in the past, I think you have no choice but to amnesty him right away. Dumping his contract not only fixes on floor personnel issues, but potentially solves contract problems that could free up some funds and bring on some guys to keep Dwight around.
Nowell: Oh, man, I amnesty him quick. Like, real quick. The best case scenario for “something left in the tank” with Gilbert still means a combo guard who needs to learn his limitations, and since I believe the Magic are looking at a post-Dwight future, I think they also need to prize financial prudence.
Rivera: I would amnesty Arenas right away. Even if Smith wanted to wait and see what Arenas had to offer on the court, unless he magically reverts back to his superstar form, it’s hard to see him improving much from the player that he was last season. If that’s the case, Arenas would have little value on the trade market. So what’s the point of keeping Arenas?