- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Mar. 15: It’s the NBA trade deadline, and it either could be the worse day for Magic fans since Shaq left in 1996 or the best, depending if Howard reverses field as the saga plays out this summer. Or Magic fans might be welcoming a new player or two. Mar. 16: Call it karma or fate, whatever. But if Howard is traded to New Jersey, guess what? The Magic’s first game after the trade deadline is against…. the Nets. How cruel. It could be Howard’s first game against his former team — and at Amway Center, of all places. You couldn’t make this stuff up. Magic boo-birds surely would let him have it, a night that might require extra security at the arena. Imagine Bynum wearing a Magic jersey. Or Howard could still be with the Magic, meaning he could be playing out the string until he becomes a free agent, possibly leaving the Magic with no compensation.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “While the weekly and sometimes daily conversations between Howard and Williams might concern some Magic fans because of their desire to play together – possibly with the Nets – Howard insists that the two are just friends. They became confidants in 2008 while playing for Team USA in the Summer Olympics and have talked basketball, life and other issues regularly. But the two friends will be enemies Wednesday night when the Magic (21-12) face the Nets (10-24) at 7:30 p.m. It will be the first time that Howard has played in New Jersey since issuing an early-season trade request that included the Nets as one of his preferred destinations.”
- The odds that the Los Angeles Lakers trade for Dwight Howard at the deadline are “slim and none” according to a source that spoke with Ken Berger of CBSSports.com for a story.
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “It seems odd to criticize Dwight Howard after a 28 point, 16 rebound performance — which included him stealing the ball from Brandon Jennings and scoring on the one-man fast break at one point — but we can’t help ourselves. His defensive effort is inconsistent. He is so talented he puts up numbers, but it’s hard to watch him and think he is fully invested. Ryan Anderson had the go-ahead three for the Magic in what was a close game. Jennings had 22 for the Bucks.”
- Britt Robson of Sports Illustrated with midseason grades for all 30 NBA teams. The Orlando Magic get a B+ from Robson: “Orlando has made the best of a bad situation. The pivotal moment came after a 1-5 stretch in late January, which included an 87-56 loss at Boston, a 93-67 defeat at lowly New Orleans and blowing a 27-point lead at home against the Celtics. At 12-9 and in the midst of what coach Stan Van Gundy called the worst stretch of his five-year tenure, the team could have packed it in and waited for the trading deadline to resolve Dwight Howard’s lame-duck status. Instead, the Magic have won nine of 12 to thrust themselves back into position for home-court advantage in the playoffs. It is still possible that Orlando, knowing it needs to get something in return for its superstar center, will deal Howard by March 15. But both the player and the franchise can feel good about the way they are potentially closing out his legacy in Orlando.”
- Dwight Howard is among the favorites to win the Defensive Player of the Year award.
- Abe Schwadron of SLAM ONLINE: “In every single Orlando win over the Bucks over the past two weeks, the Magic have overcome fourth quarter deficits, and they now sit at 21-12 on the year, with a potentially awkward matchup at New Jersey up next.”
- Which player that has played for the Magic has the best chance of having his jersey retired by the franchise? The list may surprise you.
- John Hollinger of ESPN Insider is quite fond of Ryan Anderson: “For all the flak we give Otis Smith, let’s point out one thing he absolutely did right: getting Anderson as a throw-in in the Vince Carter trade with New Jersey. After two seasons as a reserve, he’s emerging as a star this season — in fact, he’s sixth in the East in PER and pushing Dwight Howard for the Orlando team lead in that category, helping keep the Magic afloat at 21-12 despite the fact that their guards can barely get the ball across the time line. Anderson’s long ball is so deadly when paired with Howard’s interior dominance that he has the second-best plus/minus difference in the NBA, exceeded only by that of the Clippers’ Blake Griffin. Orlando is plus-9.41 points per 100 possessions with Anderson on the court but a ghastly minus-10.11 points per 100 possessions once he checks out.”
Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.