Apr 07, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard (12) during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Magic defeated the Sixers 88-82. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

NBA Trades & Free Agency: Weighing the Trade Options for Orlando Center Dwight Howard

Rob Hennigan has been given the unenviable task of having to trade the best center in the NBA.  Ideally, one would like to figure the Magic could obtain a ton, net a franchise player in return, or many picks to use to rebuild the team, but that hasn’t been the case.

Teams aren’t willing to over pay for a guy that hasn’t even promised he will sign an extension.  Even the one team that he has promised such to, the Brooklyn Nets, aren’t ready to give up all that much.

Why?

Because they know they don’t have to.

Hennigan and the Magic are sitting ducks, forced to trade away their biggest asset because he just won’t be loyal, won’t be patient, and because he can’t just even play out his contract.

He’s complained that he felt “blackmailed” into declining his option to opt out of the contract, but later reneged those statements and said he was misquoted.  He wasn’t.  Dwight Howard has been acting very childish through this, and hasn’t leveled with anyone.  I suspect the only member of the media he has leveled with has been Jarrod Rudolph of RealGM.com, a confidant for the troubled big man.  He likely knows exactly what Howard has thought throughout this entire process, throughout a time in which he has repeatedly told media “All that matters is that I’m in Orlando right now.”

The line became so stale, that anyone with half a brain knew to no longer inquire as to his thought process regarding his upcoming free agency.

But we don’t know what Howard’s thinking.  He is discontent, but he has no reason to be.  He reached the Finals in 2009, and the team has had success.  Ultimately, he needs to accept blame that he is the reason it hasn’t reached higher level.  He’s gotten better every season in the league but has yet to make the leap to being a truly elite player.  His offense has gotten a lot better, but he still can’t shoot the ball too well further than 10 or 12 feet out, and his free throw shooting is getting worse, as he shot a career low from the line last season.

But the Magic are going to have to make a decision, now that they’ve had a few offers to weigh out.

The best offer, in my opinion, has been that of the Houston Rockets.  In the proposed trade with the Rockets, the Magic would obtain all three of Houston’s 2012 first round picks, Royce White, Jeremy Lamb, and Terrence Jones.  They would also obtain Kevin Martin, Patrick Patterson, Marcus Morris, and Chandler Parsons.  Out would go the horrible contracts of Glen Big Baby Davis, Quentin Richardson, Chris Duhon, and Jason Richardson.  Hedo Turkoglu may even be disposed of.  The Magic would obtain a host of valuable young players, and could even look to move Martin after obtaining him.

It would clear the cupboard and replace aging vets with  no future with talented young forwards like Parsons, Morris, and Patterson, all of whom have yet to cash in on their potential as pros.  And I like all 3 of the Rockets’ selections in the NBA Draft, as some have compared Royce White to a young Anthony Mason; Jeremy Lamb a poor man’s Ray Allen, and Jones a athletic big body ,who is comparable to 90s forward Derrick McKey.  It would give the Magic a core they could build around.

The Nets, Hawks, and Lakers have been active as well.

The New Jersey offer wasn’t so bad:  Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, three first round picks, and the offer to take back bad contracts.  For some reason, the possible best part of the trade, Brooks, was not desired by the Magic, who were seeking another first in exchange for Brooks, by involving a third team (likely the Clippers).

The Magic didn’t want Humphries either, who had been mentioned as a possible piece to involve the Cleveland Cavaliers and a pick.  Then, the Magic decided they didn’t want Lopez either, after he inked a huge contract extension, nearly a max contract for a center who averages under seven rebound a game.  That final straw put an end to the Howard to Brooklyn trade — but only for the moment.  The time may come when a trade similar to this one goes down.

The Lakers offer has been less clear, but it supposedly would ship out Andrew Bynum to Houston in a three team scenario, that would net the Magic a similar package to the Houston trade, in the sense that the Rockets would be shipping a lot out to take on a franchise big like Bynum.

But that’s the perplexing thing:  Why does Houston realize that Bynum is a franchise player, but Hennigan can’t?  Taking Bynum back, the second best center in the NBA, would be a way to ensure the franchise stays relevant.

Is Hennigan unconvinced that Bynum really is that man?  Does he not think that Bynum could be a 20 point, 10 rebound, 3 block kind of player?  It would seem that when you’re giving up the best, you should attempt to obtain the next best thing, and Hennigan has relented in doing so.  I don’t understand it.

The Hawks, meanwhile, have not put together any package that has even made Hennigan think.  They have Al Horford and Josh Smith as valuable chips, but just rid themselves of Joe Johnson, whom Hennigan may have had interest in.  Horford is a great and solid All Star, but can’t anchor an offense like Howard did, and Smith is at best a third fiddle type of player, offensively, while his defensive skills have made him a premier small forward, yet one who still has somehow not made an All Star team.

The best scenario, of course, would have been to bring Smith into Orlando to play with Howard, his AAU childhood friend.   Smith and Howard both wanted that to happen, but it was never able to officially go down, and the result has been that Atlanta has fallen to irrelevance after losing Johnson, while Johnson himself ended up the place that Howard has been wanting to go all along.  Funny how that works.

But when it comes right down to it, Hennigan is eventually just going to have to pull the trigger.  Both the New Jersey and Houston offers have been attractive enough to entice action, yet they haven’t.  I think the longer he waits, the worse the offers will get, as the Magic are forced into desperation and a last minute act for a trade that has been in the works for months now.

But you can’t expect teams to run banging down the door to rent Howard for half a season without a commitment on his part to re-sign with the team that acquires him.  Until that happens, Hennigan won’t get any good offers, and he just wants some picks and cap relief to rebuild the team.  It’s very rare that a team can trade a franchise talent and get a true equivalent return on the trade, but the Magic just simply have to do the best they can, and right now, that would seem to be pulling the trigger on the Houston deal.

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Tags: Andrew Bynum Atlanta Hawks Brooklyn Nets Dwight Howard Houston Rockets Jeremy Lamb Joe Johnson Josh Smith Kevin Martin NBA Draft Picks NBA Free Agency NBA Trades Orlando Magic Patrick Patterson Royce White Terrence Jones

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