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Orlando Magic superstar Dwight Howard has requested a trade to the New Jersey Nets, league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Saturday.
Orlando GM Otis Smith has made it clear that he will trade Howard wherever the Magic get the best possible package, but the fact that Howard is willing to sign a five-year, $109 million extension with New Jersey makes it likely that the Nets can be the most aggressive in offering an attractive package
Smith confirmed that Howard has asked to be traded to the Orlando Sentinel on Saturday afternoon.
Los Angeles had long been a preferred choice of Howard’s, but sources say that several factors have pushed him toward the Nets over the Lakers. Howard has a strong relationship with Deron Williams, and has also resisted following the same career path as Shaquille O’Neal, who left the Magic for the Lakers two decades ago.
Magic fans feared this day would come. Well, it’s here.
There’s a lot of layers to unravel so here goes.
Just because Dwight Howard has requested a trade to the New Jersey Nets doesn’t mean that general manager Otis Smith has to send him there. Smith’s objective, right now, should still be to try to do everything humanly possible to improve the roster around Howard because he’s still under contract and a member of the Orlando Magic. That should be Smith’s first priority.
For those that don’t remember, during the offseason in 2007, Kobe Bryant got fed up with the Los Angeles Lakers after getting bounced in the first round against the Phoenix Suns that year and demanded a trade to the Chicago Bulls because his supporting cast consisted of Smush Parker, Kwame Brown, among other misfits. The following season, the Lakers held tight, traded for Pau Gasol at the trade deadline, and the threat of Bryant leaving the franchise was gone. Bryant finally got the supporting cast he wanted and as a result, Los Angeles made the NBA Finals in 2008, and won back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010.
It would behoove Smith if he didn’t try to do the same thing as the Lakers did. Granted, acquiring Glen Davis in a sign-and-trade doesn’t exactly help matters. Neither does re-signing Jason Richardson. However, if it helps in the process of convincing Howard to remain with the Magic, than that’s a different story.
There’s also the issue of Orlando not having many assets to work with right now, which will make the process of trading for talent and improving the roster a difficult one.
If Smith has exhausted all of his options and is unable to surround Howard with the supporting cast he needs to win a championship with the Magic, then he has no other choice. Smith has to trade Howard. And again, just because Howard has requested a trade to the Nets doesn’t mean that Smith has to send him there. If Smith can exhibit patience, as Denver Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri did while dealing with a similar scenario with Carmelo Anthony last season before eventually trading him to the New York Knicks, then Orlando stands a good chance of extracting as many assets as possible for their star player.
That being said, although time is running out on Smith, he still has time to fix this mess he’s created. But the clock is ticking for the Magic.