July 20, 2012
By Luka Papalko
By this time, NBA fans are more than well aware of the situation in Orlando. While it's as simple as Dwight Howard wanting out and no longer wanting to play in Orlando, the resolution to it is much more complicated. With several parties involved wanting several different things, the situation has been a long drawn out process. With Dwight Howard still being under contract after opting in during the trade deadline last year, it has made for a difficult situation that could have been taken care of and avoided all together. Now with the trade demand still standing and Dwight Howard still in Orlando, the saga has held the NBA hostage.
The man holding the most power to resolve this saga is new Orlando GM Rob Henningan who, at 30 years old, has been thrust to the forefront of the negotiations. While Dwight Howard has made demands to be traded to a list of teams, Henningan has held firm in his stance to get the best deal for the Magic. While Howard's demands has limited the market of teams, Hennigan has not buckled to that pressure.
With Howard still under contract for the 2012-2013 season, Hennigan still has the power to trade him at any time and wait until the price is right. But Henningan is also walking a fine line in finding the right time to trade Howard.
Howard's value will always be high. The 26 year old center is entering the prime of a likely Hall of Fame career and will go down as one of the most dominant big men the game has seen. Teams will always be interested and will bend over backwards to acquire the type of talent that Howard has. Similar to the Carmelo Anthony drama, the demand will always be there for a franchise player.
But there is also a chance of injury that could change things. Howard has documented back problems that have plagued him. While the back problems have been under control for Howard, there is always a chance it could worsen. There is also the chance for other potential injuries during the season that could thwart any deal or change the framework of a deal.
For the Magic, there is also the PR nightmare that would happen with Howard still being on the Magic roster come opening night. Howard has far from endeared fans with the way he has handled his situation and with him not planning on staying in Orlando, the backlash from the fans would be felt by the franchise. It's a situation that the organization by all accounts want to avoid.
Not only would the Magic feel the backlash from the fans but the team and the locker room would also be an uneasy place. With the media circus and attention surrounding Howard, it would be an all around negative influence on the locker room. Players are well aware of the situation and having their key player and leader not committed to the team, it would make for a less than ideal environment.
If Hennigan does keep Howard during the season, there is also the underlying theme of the Magic winning games that could hurt their chances at a future high draft pick. With Hennigan placing a high importance on building through the draft, it might not be something he wants to put at risk. While tanking is never answer and the NBA Draft Lottery helps avoid that, the reality is that teams want high draft picks to re-build. The longer the Magic would keep Howard throughout the season, the worse positioning they would have in the upcoming draft.
Right now the biggest obstacle holding this up, is Orlando receiving a viable return for Howard. While Hennigan is being criticized by some for dragging his out, he should be applauded by trying to the absolute best package he can. Dwight Howard is a once in a lifetime type talent, so receiving the proper return should be at the top of the list.
The difficulty has been the Magic finding a third team to help meet their demands. With the market limited by what teams Howard would sign an extension with, it has limited the return the Magic have been offered. So instead the Magic have enlisted the help of a third team to try to improve the offers for Howard. Three team deals are hard enough to pull off. Adding a Dwight Howard and other obstacles such as assuring that a player will be more than a one-year rental, makes it even harder.
There's no certain date that the Dwightmare will end. The Magic will likely hire a head coach within the next few days and go from there. Regardless, Orlando GM Rob Hennigan is under pressure to get a deal done. Ultimately this will come to an end and Howard will be wearing a different uniform but it won't be until the Magic get the deal that suits them best.