Winderman: Why Orlando has to trade Dwight Howard


That’s a pretty impressive piece of trivia that Stan Van Gundy is about to be attached to, if you believe the scuttlebutt: the first NBA head coach to be fired by both Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard (if you accepted the speculation back in December 2005 with the Heat).

But if we actually decide to move past the conjecture and deal with the cold, hard numbers, it never will get to that.

The Magic have to deal Howard. The payroll offers no other option.

Amid increased speculation and some actual quality reporting along the way, it is clear this is dysfunctional relationship beyond repair. Riding it out is looking more and more like riding it out until July.

And, by the numbers, that would leave the Magic essentially with zero wiggle room, not nearly enough for any type of efficient salvage mission.

So let’s get the numbers out there, the official numbers, of what the Magic payroll would look like for 2012-13 without Howard.

• Hedo Turkoglu: $6 million guaranteed ($11.8 million total contract).
• Jameer Nelson: $8.6 million guaranteed.
• J.J. Redick: $0 guaranteed ($6.2 million guaranteed after July 8).
• Glen Davis: $6.4 million guaranteed.
• Jason Richardson: $6 million guaranteed.
• Chris Duhon: $3.3 million guaranteed.
• Quentin Richardson: $2.6 million guaranteed.
• Earl Clark: $1.2 million, player option.
• Justin Harper: $762,195.

That’s $34.2 million when including allowing Turkoglu to walk (likely) and Redick to walk (not nearly as likely).

Working off the current $58 million cap, and factoring in the requisite cap holds to flush out the roster, that would leave the Magic with a hideous remaining seven-player contingent of Nelson, Davis, Duhon, Clark, Harper and a pair of Richardsons.

It is why even if the Magic trade Howard for less than market value, the value in any deal would be losing some of the bad remaining money, as well, starting at least with Turkoglu’s guaranteed share and then perhaps the money of Nelson or Jason Richardson, as well.

As ludicrous as it sounds, losing Howard for next to nothing now would be far, far, far more advantageous than losing Howard for nothing in July.

Wind up with Howard walking for nothing in return, and you arguably wind up in an even darker place than the Cavaliers (Anderson Varejao, Mo Williams) when they lost LeBron James or the Raptors (Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon) when they lost Chris Bosh.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.