Tuck: Orlando Magic Will Not Trade Dwight Howard

By Mike Tuck
Host, Tuck & O'Neill

Nets, Lakers, Heat, Clippers, Celtics, Blazers, Thunder, Knicks.  Get in line.  Make your trade offers.  Otis Smith may listen, but you can take his laughter to mean one thing: Nice try, but no thanks.

Orlando is all in.  The Magic have made big trades.  Taken on big salaries.  Failed they have, but Otis Smith and Magic will not keep trying to win with Dwight Howard until the big man leaves.

Otis Smith ain’t no fool.  You may think of him as such if you like, but he isn’t stupid.  He realizes Orlando’s only chance to win a title this year centers around his center.  We’ve spoken to Otis Smith every Monday during the basketball season for the last two seasons, and he scoffs at the idea of trading Dwight, or doing anything that isn’t in the interest of winning now.

Dwight Howard took some major steps forward as an offensive player last year.  Not just his skills expanding, but his passion and command of the offense growing as the year passed.  Dwight is considered the best defensive player in basketball, and undoubtedly one of the handful of players whose value cannot be measured solely in numbers.  He is irreplaceable.

There is no trade the Magic can make where they will win.  Otis knows this.  The Magic know this.  Heck, everyone in the league knows it.  You know it too.

Orlando has one option: Do everything you can to make this year the best year it possibly can be, and hope it’s enough to convince Dwight Howard to resign here.  If it isn’t enough, then you take what you can get for him…next summer.  Yes, you may get less, but getting more now doesn’t guarantee you anything and as we’ve already concluded, you can’t win this deal.  I’d rather lose the deal, next year, than this.

Trading him has it’s limitations.  Everyone wants Dwight Howard.  Dwight Howard doesn’t want everyone.  And if he isn’t going to sign an extension (if traded before New Year’s) or promise to resign (if traded after) then it doesn’t matter what that team can offer, because the deal won’t work.  Latest reports say Boston wants Chris Paul, and was willing to deal Rondo as part of the package, which is a fair start, but CP3 doesn’t want to play there, so no deal.

Another reason a deal like New Jersey’s doesn’t work for Orlando, is they have no interest in starting over.  Otis Smith’s only goal is winning a title.  He isn’t starting over, and would probably be fired if he did.  So, like last season’s deals showed, just keeping pushing, take whatever chances are necessary to keep Dwight Howard around and give yourself a chance to win.  I expect Orlando to spend money, and make more trades this year.  They have no interest in taking back a decent center in Brook Lopez and two first round picks.

Another reason not to trade Dwight Howard is you’d lose your fan base, almost immediately.  You become the bad guy as much as Dwight does if you deal him before he walks.  The Magic will fight to win this year, and live with what happens after.

This isn’t the lock most people make it out to be that he is gone.  Everyone else gets their jollies thinking about getting Dwight, CP3, or Deron Williams to their team, or if you are in the media, a more high profile team that is more fun to talk about.  That is why it is coming up and will keep coming up.  I’ve been saying since last season I think it’s about 60-40 Dwight leaves, but that leaves quite the large possibility he stays.  Orlando’s mistakes along the way, and lack of assets severely hinders their chances to add another superstar the city craves, but perhaps some under-the-radar, smart, and savvy moves can still save the day.  Otis Smith and the Magic will need to be creative and really earn their paychecks, but it’s possible that a couple good moves could go a long way.

As long as Dwight Howard is in Orlando.   The Magic are losing this poker game.  They’ve almost run out of chips, but are still alive because they have their ace in the hole and they aren’t playing that card until they absolutely have to.

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