February 24, 2011
As teams have scrambled over the last few days to add pieces before the trade deadline, it's important to remember that some teams made their big moves months ago. Take the Orlando Magic, a franchise that picked up Jason Richardson(notes), Gilbert Arenas(notes) and Hedo Turkoglu(notes) in the hopes that they could recapture stardom and get their team back to the finals after a one-year layoff.
The gamble has not paid off, and now the Magic find themselves with a horrific long-term cap situation and impending free agency for star Dwight Howard(notes) in 2012 or 2013. To make matters worse, Howard isn't sure where the team can go from here. From Zach McCann for the Orlando Sentinel:
Dwight Howard, the Orlando Magic's unequivocal leader, spent most of Wednesday's 111-105 loss to the Sacramento Kings pleading for his teammates to play harder.
He exploded on his team during a timeout in the second quarter. He harped on his team in almost every huddle. Even between whistles he'd bark words at his teammates.
After the game, Howard was tired of talking.
"I've said everything there is to say," said Howard, sitting dejectedly in front of his lockers with a semi-circle of reporters around him. "That's it. I've talked every timeout, when we're in the huddle, in the locker room... What, you want me to Tweet about it? I've done everything I'm supposed to do as a leader."
There's full video of Howard's postgame interview, but it's not very pretty -- the normally chipper Dwight looks sad and confused about what exactly he can do. It's a tough spot to be in for Howard. He only gets better with each passing year, but the Magic have been eclipsed by several teams in the East over the past two seasons and look unlikely to improve anytime soon.
With stars like Carmelo Anthony(notes) seeking to change teams at the first sign of non-contention, it seems more and more likely that Howard will leave Orlando. Emotion can sometimes affect a postgame interview and make a player say things he doesn't entirely mean, but take one look at Howard here and you're unlikely to think he's long for Orlando.
It's a tough reality to face. Unfortunately, it's also becoming the norm.