Insider: The Dwight Howard Watch 2-28-12

With All-Star weekend over, the entire city of Orlando turns their attention to the future of Dwight Howard. The trade deadline is just over two weeks away (March 15) and at the moment, the Magic appear poised to keep Howard for the rest of the season.

In fact, a source has told ESPN Florida the Magic are in hot pursuit of Phoenix point guard Steve Nash in attempt to not only appease Howard, but give the Magic a realistic chance at making a run at a title this year. The Nash rumors have also been reported by several other outlets.

Nash, 38, is averaging 13.9 points and 10.9 rebounds per game, while having arguably the best shooting season of his career (54.2% from the field).

Our good friend Steve Kyler, who is the publisher of Hoops World and host of The Game, which can be heard right here on ESPN Florida every Sunday afternoon from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm EST, discussed the possibility of Howard remaining with Orlando.

The story goes like this… currently there are roughly five teams that could sign Howard outright – New Jersey, Dallas, Indiana, Boston and maybe Sacramento.

How much bigger does the pool get if Howard waits another year? Does a better situation surface in a year? Can teams start dumping salaries to open up space for him?

But more importantly from a Magic point of view, it gives them a final year to deliver the change they have promised Howard since the start of training camp. Or it gives them the option to trade him before the start of next year and get real value for him, while Howard maximizes his money.

However, that hasn’t stopped the rumors from heating up – the hot team today is the Golden State Warriors.

Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com says the Warriors will take the risk of Howard not re-upping and will continue to attempt to acquire Howard:

Warriors continuing push for Dwight Howard deal even without DH commitment to re-signing. Not backing off from risky move, source says.

Rookie Klay Thompson and veteran Monta Ellis have been the names we’ve consistently heard from the Warriors’ side.

Orlando Sentinel writer Brian Schmitz wonders if the Magic could keep Howard and pry Ellis away from the Warriors:

So, could Smith, the ex-Warrior who has done a lot of business with his old front office, acquire Ellis ($11 million) with a package of J.J. Redick ($6.5 million), Ryan Anderson ($2.2) and Earl Clark ($1.2)?

Why it’s good for the Warriors: They want to get rookie Klay Thompson more playing time and could do that by moving Ellis, who has been a headache at times. The Warriors get Redick, a good shooter and solid pro who has one more year left on his deal; Anderson, whom, Charles Barkley called the league’s best shooting power forward and is reaching the end of his contract (due a qualifying offer next summer); and Clark, who would help Mark Jackson’s plans to improve defensively.

Why it’s good for the Magic: If Howard says an acquistion of Ellis would convince him to stay — and pick winning in Orlando over the big-market fame in Brooklyn — then it goes down as the greatest trade in Magic history.

Giving up Anderson would be quite a risk – it’d leave Orlando with just Dwight Howard and Glen Davis in the front court, a situation they don’t want to get into.

Peter Vecsey of the New York Times speculates the Warriors could acquire Brook Lopez with the Magic sending Howard to New Jersey in a three-way deal:

There are renewed rumblings about the Warriors possibly getting Brook Lopez from the Nets in a multi-team deal involving Howard. That would cost them big time, though; Monta Ellis would be part of the Magic’s compensation.

It’s an interesting proposition because the Magic don’t appear to have much interest in Lopez, but rebuilding a team around an undersized volume shooter like Ellis isn’t in the best interest of the Magic.

(Andrew Melnick is the ESPNFlorida.com Magic and NBA Insider, co-host of the ESPN 1080 Insiders Show and publisher of Howard the Dunk. The Insiders Show can be heard Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST on AM 1080 in Orlando and on ESPNFlorida.com. You can follow Andrew on twitter here.)

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