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The day is finally here. Dwight Howard makes his return to Orlando after getting traded to the Los Angeles Lakers during the offseason. Were the Magic right to send him to the Lakers? Should Magic fans boo or cheer him? Which team is headed for a brighter future?
Our 3-on-3 panel breaks it all down ahead of Tuesday night’s highly anticipated showdown.
1. Fact or Fiction: Trading Howard was the right move.
Nate Drexler, Magic Basketball: Fact. It just wasn’t working out and everyone with a pulse knew it. It’s not going to help you in the long run to hang on to an asset who doesn’t want to be there in the first place. Good riddance.
Danny Nowell, Portland Roundball Society: Fact. In a perfect world, many things go differently, and the Magic ride a truly remarkable coaching and talent tandem to a long and fruitful period of contention. But this ain’t that world and the way things soured, moving on was best for everybody.
Noam Schiller, Magic Basketball: Fact. Assuming the alternative was Dwight leaving in free agency. With no apparent chance at keeping him by the time the deal went down, the Magic were facing rebuilding regardless. Jumpstarting the process by one year and some decent assets was the right move.
2. Boo or cheer: What should Magic fans do?
Drexler: I’m not the type of guy who boos. Clever cheer? Sure! Silent treatment? Even better. But booing is a little passe for my taste. It’s the cliche thing to do. That being said, I fully expect Magic fans to boo.
Nowell: Boo. I don’t, to be honest, have much opinion here. Eventually fans ought to cheer Dwight, but booing is within their rights and what I’ll imagine they do so soon after the departure debacle, so let ‘em fly, Orlando.
Schiller: This is a cop out, but I don’t think there’s a right answer. Does an acrimonious exit and a 12 month Dwightmare overshadow a magnificent tenure that included the franchise’s first Finals win? I don’t know. Every fan in Amway Center will have to calculate that for him or herself.
3. Magic or Lakers: Better in three years?
Drexler: Lakers. I’m going to go ahead and assume L.A. will have an easier time acquiring good players in the next three years, and because the draft class next year is so weak at the top, I’m giving the edge to the Lakers.
Nowell: Lakers. Honestly, the Magic are probably better positioned roster-wise right now. But in the history of the league, betting against the Lakers is a sucker’s bet, and with massive money coming off the books in a few years and an extremely lucrative TV deal, I doubt the Lakers fear the tax man as much as we’d assume.
Schiller: Lakers. Barring Dwight becoming the first top NBA player to unprecedentedly leave Los Angeles, and/or the Magic striking gold in the draft, I don’t see how the Magic can build anything to trump the league’s top center and a market to draw any available free agent within three years.