And the campaign has begun.
Well, really the campaign to keep Dwight Howard with the Orlando Magic began when Otis Smith made sweeping changes looking to upgrade the Magic roster this season by bringing in Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas.
Seeing how well that worked, some Magic fans have launched a Web Site — StayDwight.com — to serve as a community bulletin board where fans can express their undying love for Howard. There will be a message board, fan video spaces and more. And you can bet the new site will get busy after the playoffs. And after the lockout.
Howard has a lot to weigh in any decision about an extension and staying in Orlando. (He can opt out in the summer of 2012, which means if he doesn’t sign an extension Orlando would be in the place this season Denver was last season.)
Part of it is that things in Orlando are pretty good — this is a 52-win roster that went to the NBA finals a couple years ago. They have a new building which means revenue should be good for the franchise, meaning it can go after players. There’s no state tax. There’s Mickey Mouse. There is warm weather. There is the chance that staying and retooling in Orlando is a better path to a ring than leaving.
Or, he could try to leave because almost anywhere he lands that team becomes an instant threat. There is the Arenas contract and other things that make it look like what you see now is what you get with the Magic for a few years.
And the new Collective Bargaining Agreement could render this entire discussion moot. Who knows what restrictions on player movement will exist (hello franchise tag!) or incentives there will be for players to stay put.
Lots of things for Howard to weigh. And the love of Orlando fans seen on StayDwight.com is part of that.