Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Now, Magic GM Otis Smith absolutely HAS to trade Dwight Howard before March 15, doesn’t he?
Steve Aschburner: Yes, Smith has to trade Howard. And he has to trade him to Charlotte, Detroit or Washington, please, pretty please! Why the malice? Howard has brought it on himself in a variety of ways: Blaming teammates for their lack of commitment even as he angles to bail on the Magic himself. Mixing up his priorities so that off-court and lifestyle issues appear to rank higher for him than winning NBA championship. Squandering a legit chance to pursue that title this year by focusing so much on his future. Enough already. Howard eventually will get to a market that suits him, but it would be nice if Smith could banish him to some dreary outpost for the balance of a season that he, himself, has spoiled.
Fran Blinebury: Not if his goal is for his team to set all franchise scoring levels back to the pre-shot clock era, begin bottling Vintage Dwight Howard W(h)ine and create the most internal discord in the Magic Kingdom since the time Snow White short-sheeted the Seven Dwarfs. The only challenge left is finding a trade sucker, er, partner that will play the role of the 2011 Knicks.
Scott Howard-Cooper: More like before Feb. 15. Or Jan. 15. Build a time machine, go back a couple weeks and find a deal before it became painfully obvious he needs to make one. I admire the determination to find a solution that includes a future with Dwight Howard rather than cashing out and starting over. But Smith gave it a good chance. This is not going to work out.
Shaun Powell: He doesn’t have to trade Dwight if all the proposals stink. And evidently they do, otherwise Dwight would be gone already. Forget all the junk about Dwight disrupting team chemistry and all that; it’s not like a championship team is threatening to unravel. At this point, Otis needs to be the calmest person in the organization, sit tight and wait for the right opportunity, whenever that happens.
John Schuhmann: Yes. Two of the teams on Dwight’s list, Dallas and New Jersey, will have the cap space to sign him outright in the summer, and players no longer have the incentive (extra year, bigger raises) to do a sign-and-trade deal. So there’s a real possibility Orlando would lose him for nothing should they keep him through the season. The Magic could certainly recover from this recent slide and re-establish themselves as the third-best team in the East. But they’re not getting past the Bulls or Heat, and the ability to dump Hedo Turkoglu‘s contract and pick up some rebuilding pieces is worth more than a trip to the conference semifinals.
Sekou Smith: There is no doubt about it. Otis Smith has no choice. So much damage has been done to the fabric of this relationship that a messy divorce is the only way this thing ends before March 15. The better question might be where does Otis Smith trade Dwight Howard before March 15? The Magic will never get anything close to Howard in return, but they have to find a deal that allows them to do exactly what the Denver Nuggets are doing without Carmelo Anthony these days.