Give this to Magic general manager Otis Smith — he was pretty up front.
He has about the most difficult job in the NBA right now: Either retool the Magic roster enough that Dwight Howard wants to stay (a job Smith made harder on himself with bad moves last year), or find a way to get some real value back in a trade of the biggest star the franchise has had since Shaq.
But he laid it out for the Orlando Sentinel — he doesn’t want to trade Howard, but he has to keep all his options open.
“I think, one, you have to talk to your player first. We have to figure out where his head is, not where everyone thinks his head is, and just more figure out where he wants to be. And then you have to make the best decision of what’s in the best interests of the franchise. That’s how I’ve always went about it: to make the best decision that’s in the best interests of the Orlando Magic.
“I think you have to wait and leave all that up in the air. I don’t think you can say you will or you won’t [trade] at this point because you don’t know what you don’t know. I can speculate based on what I read and hear, but that’s really not fair to Dwight and it’s not fair to us. So you have to have a conversation with him about what he wants to do, and then you have to make the best decision that’s in the best interests of the franchise, as always.”
You can bet that Smith and Dan Fegan, Howard’s agent, will speak soon.
What the Magic need to hope for is Howard to be direct and honest with them — no “I might sign with you if I feel the team is moving in the right direction” stuff. Be direct. Be honest. “This is what it takes for me to stay.” If Howard truly cares about the Magic and the Magic’s fans he owes it to them to be up front about his thoughts and intentions. It’s not easy and there are a lot of emotions in play, but he needs to be a professional here.
If Howard says he wants to move on, expect this process to move pretty quickly. Smith does not want a repeat of what happened last year in Denver. Well, except for the part where the Nuggets got some quality pieces back and played well without their star.