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Dwight Howard Saga Update: Howard Reportedly Prefers to Wait Until Summer to Join New Jersey Nets
Dwight Howard finally seems to be realizing what many of us had a long time ago: The best approach to this entire free agency thing is the wait-and-see approach.
It was what LeBron James utilized before making his infamous decision on ESPN, and if Howard is smart, he'll do the same (minus the TV special disguised as a fundraiser).
Howard must realize that an in-season trade to the Nets is going to significantly weaken the team moving forward. The Magic are going to require Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks (likely), multiple first-rounders, plus whatever the Nets can manage if they get a third team involved.
If Howard waits until the summer, they keep all those pieces in tact, and likely re-sign Deron Williams, who is putting up a career-high 22 points per game this year. His assists are down from his days of playing with Carlos Boozer in Utah, but with Howard in town, they would skyrocket back up over 10 a game. I can pretty much guarantee that.
All in all, the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets are actually a very attractive team. The new arena, Jay-Z, a Russian billionaire willing to empty his pocket book to bring in the best talent, and a first-round pick that has yet to be traded in this year's loaded draft are all things the Nets have working in their favor.
Adding Howard would complete the picture perfectly. The Nets would likely move Lopez if Howard came to town. There is no need for two 7-foot 260-pound centers, and no need to force Lopez to adjust to life as a power forward. Kris Humphries can be re-signed cheaper and more easily fill the niche needed to succeed alongside Howard.
Moreover, the Nets could get something nice in return for Lopez, namely a small forward that can defend on the perimeter and hit the 3 (Andre Iguodala sounds perfect, and the Sixers would likely fancy Lopez, but more pieces would need to be involved for cap reasons).
Don't mistake all of this as Orlando having given up, however.
The Magic are still in negotiations to bring a top tier talent in to play with Howard in their attempt to keep Howard in town. They have targeted Steve Nash and Monta Ellis as possibilities, and both have their upsides.
Ellis is only 26, the same age as Howard. He's put up over 25 a game for a season before, and could do the same thing with the Magic. The two could easily spend their primes together and hopefully bring some banners to the Amway Center.
Nash is a two-time MVP and still leads the league in assists at age 38. When players age like this, as Stockton did, sometimes it's hard to believe they ever will fall off—and Nash may not. He may retire still putting up great numbers but just not have the gas in the tank to keep going. The fact that he is only two years away from turning 40 and is putting up such numbers on a poor Phoenix Suns team seems to suggest that possibility. So it may be a mistake to turn down Nash just because of his age.
Either way, the Magic know they have to do something pretty drastic to show Howard they care about winning. They've gone out and spent the money in the past; they've just misspent the money. Also, they let Marcin Gortat go for practically nothing in the trade that brought Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Earl Clark to town, and Gortat was the best trade chip on the entire team, outside of Superman himself.
So the Magic have left themselves with few options. They know to get Ellis or Nash, they are going to have to part ways with one of their talented and younger players (e.g., J.J. Redick, Ryan Anderson, or both), and that is a sobering reality. Ryan Anderson is having a career year and was a legit contender for a reserve spot on the All-Star team. He shined in the Magic's victory and outplayed perennial All-Star Chris Bosh. But if the Magic had to lose Anderson to bring in Nash or Ellis, you can pretty much rest assured that they will do so.
There will be countless other articles written by both myself and other writers before this saga comes to an end.
At this point the key factors involved are:
1) Rich DeVos doesn't want Howard traded
2) Howard himself is realizing his best bet is to wait till after the season
3) The Magic are doing everything they can to bring in help.
These three issues will be the determining ones in what actually occurs here with Howard.
It's worth keeping an eye on the Golden State Warriors, though, who are interested in renting Howard out. If they threw together an attractive enough package, Magic GM Otis Smith (and Rich DeVos) might have no choice but to bite, and they've been at this since early January, as I wrote on Jan. 6.
Source: Real GM Wiretap
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