The Orlando Magic’s Dilemma

Dwight Howard will play in Orlando at some point. Whether he is on the road team or the home squad remains to be seen.

The Magic are stuck in a rut. Dwight Howard might go somewhere else, or he might stay. The man has not made up his mind, which is terrible for the only major sports team in Orlando. If he stays, then the Magic could pursue another big name guy to pair with him. Darren Williams could be a potential fit if he leaves the Nets, ditto Chris Paul with the Clippers.

The Magic’s present and future hinge on Howard. Without him they are a mess of bad contracts and a couple decent -to-good upside guys on the roster.

Hypothetically without Howard the Magic are a complete and total mess. Think about this for a minute in terms of teams who didn’t make the playoffs-

West-

Houston Rockets

Phoenix Suns

Utah Jazz

Golden State Warriors

Los Angeles Clippers

Sacramento Kings

Minnesota Timberwolves

East-

Milwaukee Bucks

Charlotte Bobcats

Detroit Pistons

New Jersey Nets

Washington Wizards

Toronto Raptors

Cleveland Cavaliers

Most of those teams have some degree of young talent. Top to bottom: Houston has a ton of young lottery picks. Phoenix has a nice piece or two. Utah has an intriguing size and talent. Golden State can score now and can probably score in seven years with a lot of the same group. The Clippers have a ridiculous young nucleus. Despite the DeMarcus Cousins situation, Sacramento has some high octane guards, post talent or no. Minnesota might have the best young group going into the next couple years with an (insert exciting-like adjective here) core of Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams.

Out East it’s the same kind of story. Milwaukee rolls out a potentially explosive, not to mention, a potentially top-ten point guard/ center combo with Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut. Charlotte is in the same boat as Phoenix in the sense that it’s a couple of nice pieces and some veterans. Detroit has a good, young, solid point/center duo like the Bucks in Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe. New Jersey has Derron Williams and Brook Lopez, but seeing as they haven’t done diddly with a decent supporting cast, it’s tough to see them getting better with that core. The Washington Wizards have got a guy you might have heard of named John Wall (that’s probably been overused, but Wall is the best player on that team). Toronto is in the same “bunch of lottery picks, not a superstar on the team” boat. Cleveland just has Mike Conley 2.0 (Kyrie Irving) and a fan favorite (Anderson Varejao). Sell season tickets with that!

Now put a Dwight Howard-less Magic on this list. Just a refresher, this would be the Magic’s roster:

Player X who Orlando gets for Howard

Jason Richardson

Ryan Anderson

Hedo Turkoglu

Jameer Nelson

JJ Redick

Glen Davis

Daniel Orton

DeAndre Liggins

Chris Duhon

Quentin Richardon

Von Wafer

Earl Clark

Justin Harper

Larry Hughes

Let’s say that Player X is someone along the lines of Brook Lopez. Put Lopez or a DeMarcus Cousins on this team and a once 5-8 seed type team downgrades to more of a definite lottery team to a fringe playoff contender.

That and the heaps of bad contracts make for a long rebuilding process.

Now let’s say Howard stays with the Magic. You have the same exact team as above with Howard replacing Player X. That leaves the Magic in the NBA no-man’s land that is mediocrity.

It’s not as if this is the LA Clippers of a couple months back, or last year’s Knick team that started the season. This is not a team with a superstar and pieces that can be moved for another superstar. The New Jersey Nets are not going to come calling for Quentin Richardson, Von Wafer and a late first-round pick for Derron Williams. It’s simply not going to happen. The only possible trade pieces here that don’t wear number twelve are the streaking Ryan Anderson and Glen Davis. That alone isn’t going to get you a superstar.  With the way Anderson is playing the Magic will want to keep him to complement Howard.

If Dwight Howard does in fact stay there will be more Eastern Conference Semifinals and first round exits in your future Magic season ticket holders. If he does go it might be 3-5 years before it gets somewhat better.

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