The mayor of Orlando is working hard to keep Dwight Howard in Orlando (remember he can and likely will opt out of his current deal next summer), taking part in online efforts to woo Howard.
And he thinks he’s got some real help coming in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Here is what mayor Buddy Dyer said Magic CEO Alex Martins told him, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
“One thing that might give some comfort to Orlando fans is that one of the thoughts in the new collective bargaining agreement is to give an advantage to teams who are trying to keep their incumbent players,” Dyer says. “That would allow the Magic, for instance, to offer Dwight more money than any other team and (entice him) to stay home.”
Two little issues here.
One, the old Collective Bargaining Agreement also had incentives designed to keep players on teams — in Orlando’s case they could offer Howard a higher salary staring point, larger raises and one extra year on a contract compared to other teams. It would have meant about $27 million more over the course of the deal. Ask Cleveland how well that can work.
In the new CBA, those incentives likely will be bigger.
Second, that could backfire.
As Tom Ziller noted at SB Nation, let’s say the Magic can now offer $20 million a year and other teams only $15 million. Now lets say the owners get their way and there is a hard salary cap in the $60 million range (or even the $70 million range). If the Magic now have $5 million less to help get talent around Howard, it might be worth it for him to take less money to get out and have a better chance to win.
But yes, the Magic will have some added money to throw at Howard. We’ll see how that helps.
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.