5 Trade Scenarios for Dwight Howard

Will the Magic superstar be dealt before the March 15 trade deadline?

Now that the NBA All-Star break is over a week behind us and Dwight Howard was still a member of the Magic during the festivities in Orlando, it's time to start thinking a little more seriously about the trade options the team has for its superstar center.  Howard is averaging over 20 points and 15 rebounds this season and remains the premier defensive big man in the league.  The Magic do still have the option of keeping Howard, playing out the rest of the season, and hoping he re-signs with Orlando after testing the free agent waters.  It bears mentioning that if they do decide to keep Howard and he doesn't re-sign, the Magic will acquire a significant amount of cap space to be able to sign other players, which is exactly what happened when Shaq left Orlando in 1996.  That didn't work out so well then, and it may not now.  In my opinion, the best option for Orlando is to trade Howard before the March 15 trade deadline and try and get the best package they can to start rebuilding.  That being said, the team is handicapped by the list of teams Howard says he'd be willing to sign a long term deal with - the Lakers, Clippers, Mavericks, Nets, and Bulls.  With some help from ESPN's NBA Trade Machine, I'll outline the best deals the Magic can get for Howard and let you know which deal Orlando should take.

If the Magic were able to trade Howard to someone outside these five teams, I'd say look hard at Golden State, who would offer a package built around Monta Ellis.  That's a better deal than they'd get from anyone on Howard's list, and the Warriors would instantly become a contender.  Their starting five would be Steph Curry, Brandon Rush/Klay Thompson, Dorrell Wright, David Lee, and Howard.  That's easily a playoff team in the West.  The Magic could also get back Ekpe Udoh who keeps improving and some sort of draft pick(s).  I'd take that deal any day, but it's not going to happen because Howard wants to play in a bigger market.  Logical, not feasible.  Just wanted to throw that out there, now back to reality.

Los Angeles Lakers
The trade
Lakers get C Dwight Howard from Orlando, F Luis Scola from Houston, and G J.J. Redick from Orlando
Orlando gets C Andrew Bynum from LA, G Kevin Martin from Houston and picks
Houston gets PF Pau Gasol from LA

Analysis: The Lakers are more willing to deal Gasol than C Andrew Bynum, but this deal works with them dealing both.  Orlando would be getting both Bynum and a proven scorer in Martin plus picks, which isn't a bad  haul.  Houston was ready to deal Scola and Martin for Gasol when the Lakers had the deal for Chris Paul done, so they'd likely be open to doing it again.

Dallas Mavericks
The Trade: C Dwight Howard and F Hedo Turkoglu to Dallas for PG Jason Kidd, PF Lamar Odom, PG Roddy Beaubois, F Shawn Marion, and G Dominique Jones

Analysis: The Mavs would be better off waiting for Howard to become a free agent, but if they don't want to risk waiting it out this is what they could put together.  The centerpieces would be Beaubois and Marion, but the Magic would be able to clear a bunch of cap space as well with J-Kidd's expiring contract ($10 million) along with shedding Turkoglu's contract and the option to amnesty Lamar Odom.  They'd end up with cap space to go after a big FA, a young PG in Beaubois, a young scorer in Jones, and Marion whom they could keep or flip for other young pieces.

Los Angeles Clippers
The Trade: C Dwight Howard, G Jason Richardson, and F Hedo Turkoglu to LA for C DeAndre Jordan, F Caron Butler, PG Mo Williams, PG Eric Bledsoe, and Minnesota's 2012 1st round pick

Analysis: The Magic would get back a young, improving big in Jordan, a young PG in Bledsoe, a scorer in Williams, a solid player in Butler, and a lottery pick.  They could amnesty either Williams or Butler, and along with shedding Turkoglu's contract, save cap space.  This would be amazing for the Clippers though if they could keep Paul and Blake Griffin and put them together with Howard.  Lob City times a million.

Chicago Bulls
The Trade: C Dwight Howard and F Quentin Richardson to Chicago for C Joakim Noah, F Luol Deng, and F Taj Gibson

Analysis: Love this deal for the Bulls, just like it for Orlando.  Chicago would start D-Rose, Rip Hamilton, Ronnie Brewer, Boozer and Howard and they'd be bringing C.J. Watson, Kyle Korver, Omer Asik, Q and Jimmy Butler (who I love in the NBA, btw) off the bench.  Orlando would get back an All-Star in Deng and two excellent role players in Noah and Gibson to pair with Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Turkoglu, J.J. and Ryan Anderson.  A deep team without a true superstar, similar to Denver or Philly, but when you're losing the best center in the game that's not a bad deal.  

New Jersey Nets
The Trade: C Dwight Howard to New Jersey for C Brook Lopez, C Mehmet Okur, and 2 2012 1st round picks

Analysis: This seems to be the most talked about scenario.  The Nets need to make the deal to keep Deron Williams for their move to Brooklyn, otherwise Williams will be gone at the end of the season.  They have two first round picks to send to Orlando to start the rebuilding process as well as young center in Brook Lopez.  I think Lopez is highly overrated, but two high 1st round picks in this upcoming draft can mean a lot to a franchise if you hit on the right guys.

And the best overall trade would be...

Chicago Bulls
The Trade: C Dwight Howard and F Quentin Richardson to Chicago for C Joakim Noah, F Luol Deng, and F Taj Gibson

It's clear why this deal would be best for Chicago, but why is it best for Orlando?  If you're going to trade Howard and get something, why not grab 3 guys who can be key players for a tough, defensive-minded, potential championship team?  It may not happen right away, but it gives you the pieces to be more than competitive.  I know people say it's better to suck and get a high lottery pick than be average in the NBA, but I'd make the case that the Magic would clearly be above average with this deal.  As a matter of fact, I think they may be a better team after this trade without Howard than before the trade.  Think about it - Starters: Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Deng, Big Baby Davis, Noah.  Bench: Chris Duhon, Redick, Turkoglu, Gibson, Ryan Anderson.  That team goes at least 10 deep with solid defense, rebounding, and 3-pt shooting all over the court, both starters and bench.

If the Magic are going to make this trade, Orlando G.M. Otis Smith needs to keep the Bulls on his speed-dial, because this is where they should send Dwight Howard.

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