AP Photo/John Raoux
With Dwight Howard opting in to the final year of his contract, the Orlando Magic got what they were looking for. Time.
With a little more time, it’s up to the Magic to do what they promised to do for Dwight — build an elite team and championship contender around him. Orlando has done it once. Now it’s time for the Magic to do it again. Will Orlando get the job done and convince Dwight to stay even longer?
We shall see.
The crew at Magic Basketball, along with Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post, discuss what might happen with Dwight and the Magic next.
Fact or Fiction: With Dwight Howard waiving the early termination option in his contract, the Orlando Magic made a mistake by not making a trade at the deadline to bring in help.
Dunlap: Fact. We’re not privy to the trade discussions involving the Magic that did or did not take place, but when you see one of the strongest backup-caliber players at your team’s weakest position get traded for Luke Walton and Jason Kapono, it raises some eyebrows. Ramon Sessions really would have helped Orlando, but perhaps its trade chips weren’t appealing enough.
Nowell: Fact. I wouldn’t have said this until I saw how low the going price was for Ramon Sessions and Nick Young, but you have to wonder why the Magic weren’t making inquiries when players were being had for basically nothing.
Scribbins: Fiction. What’s the hurry now? The team has time to work on a deal that will make the team significantly better and convince Dwight to stay. There was no need to rush into a deal at the deadline. At the end of the day, Dwight is still wearing an Orlando uniform. That’s really all there is to it.
Fact or Fiction: The Magic will pair a second star next to Dwight before the trade deadline next season.
Dunlap: Fact. Though it’d be my preference for Orlando to wait until the 2013 free-agent period to make its big move — the Magic simply have to set their sights on Chris Paul, don’t they? — it’s more prudent for it to try upgrading as soon as possible. The sooner Howard sees the Magic’s potential with better players, the easier convincing him not to leave in 2013 will be.
Nowell: Fiction. I think the best case scenario, with the money they’re paying their current roster, is to acquire young, cheap system guys to pair with Dwight. That might provide the upside and competitiveness it would take to keep Dwight long-term so the team can wait for the right situation with a star-level player.
Scribbins: Fact. Can you imagine the fan reaction if they don’t get another star in a Magic uniform by this time next year? There is no way they’re letting Dwight leave because they didn’t add help. You better believe they’ll find a way to make it a reality.
Fact or Fiction: Dwight will remain with Orlando past the 2012-2013 season.
Dunlap: Fact. I think the Magic will have made enough roster moves by then to build a stronger team and intrigue Howard into staying. They’ll also have a bit of salary-cap room and could try pairing him with another superstar, if they haven’t already traded for one by then.
Nowell: Fact. I’m not actually sure about this, but with the Magic having bought themselves a year, there may just be enough time for them to triage the payroll and find some talent somewhere in a year. Why not be hopeful today?
Scribbins: Fact. The team now has an additional year to figure out a way to keep the best player in franchise history. Plus, it doesn’t seem like Dwight wants to leave anymore. The odds are more favorable now than they have been in a while.