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.
Who will Dwight Howard be playing for after Thursday’s deadline? And why do you think so?
Steve Aschburner: Orlando. Why? The Magic don’t want to lose him, now or later, and haven’t been wowed by the offers to do a deal now. Owner Rick De Vos would prefer that Howard re-up with his team now and for the rest of his career, and any chance of making that happen ends the moment Dwight gets traded. His passive-aggressive statement Tuesday about wanting to stay for the rest of this season – likely intended only to stop his destination team (Brooklyn?) from gutting itself the way the Knicks did for Carmelo Anthony – still fuels some false hopes in central Florida.
Fran Blinebury: Orlando. In the absence of a Pau Gasol-Andrew Bynum package from the Lakers, I believe the Magic front office will look at what is available in trade from the likes of New Jersey or Dallas or Golden State or Houston or whomever and conclude that they’re willing to try to draw to an inside straight by holding onto Howard and convincing him to re-sign over the summer. It’s a high-risk move, for sure. But with the exception of a Lakers two-fer, everything else merely dooms Orlando to mediocrity.
Scott Howard-Cooper: The Magic have been betting on having Howard for years, not months. They’re prepared to play it through to July and their ability to offer him the most money in the only professional home he has known.
Shaun Powell: Barring a last-minute change of heart about staying with Orlando, he’ll be with the Nets because there’s really nowhere else for him to go. The Magic don’t like Brook Lopez; actually, they can’t stomach him. But they’ll take him and a No. 1 ever so reluctantly and hope they can spin lottery gold again with that pick.
John Schuhmann: New Jersey, because the Magic have to do what’s best for the long-term health of their franchise. It’s clear (as it has been for a while now) that the Nets are Howard’s first choice and he’s going to get to Brooklyn either via trade or free agency. The Nets will have the cap space to sign him outright, so the Magic need to get what they can for him. They should obviously explore other trade options, but it’s hard to see rental teams giving the Magic what the Nets can. Billy King could play hardball, but I think the Nets should get Dwight now, rather than wait and take the risks that come with waiting another four months.
Sekou Smith: The Nets. If the Nets want him and are so sure they can get him in free agency, the Magic need to work the phones like crazy to force the Nets into offering up some assets of their own to make sure they get Howard now and don’t have to play the waiting game. There are no guarantees in free agency, as all of the teams that thought they had LeBron James locked up before The Decision found out. The Magic would be wise to remind the Nets of that in every way imaginable before 3 p.m. Thursday.