Welcome to the current life of Dwight Howard. The NBA’s most talented center can’t go anywhere these days without hearing people give him their own opinion on what he should and shouldn’t do with his basketball career and his life. For the past 7 seasons, Dwight Howard has carried the Orlando Magic and the city of Orlando on his back. He’s took the Magic to the NBA Finals, he’s made the NBA Playoffs 5 straight seasons. He has won a NBA record three consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards. He’s been a unanimous choice for the All-Star game as a starter year in and year out. And Dwight Howard has brought the Orlando Magic back to relevance in the NBA and has given the city of Orlando national exposure which it hasn’t seen since the mid 90’s.
But why are Magic fans not thanking Howard for what he has done? The last thing you should do, as a Magic fan, is chastise Dwight Howard for wanting to do what is best for him. Don’t blame Superman, blame the Orlando Magic front office and GM Otis Smith. When the Orlando Magic won the opportunity to draft Dwight Howard in the 2005 NBA Draft with the number one overall pick, there were two directions the Magic had in front of them. Rebuild the team around Dwight Howard and start fresh from the bottom, or to develop Dwight Howard and remain competitive in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Unfortunately the Magic decided to go with the latter, and try to compete while developing Dwight Howard into the superstar he is today. That decision in itself is proving to be catastrophic to both the Orlando Magic and the city of Orlando. Instead of constantly bringing in players to compete in the East, the Magic should have reloaded and tried their best to remain lottery bound for a few seasons following the drafting of Howard. Could you even imagine what could have been if Orlando Magic management had the slightest bit of common sense? If the Magic made the right move after drafting Dwight Howard and went into rebuilding mode, here is a short list of the players the Magic could have drafted in the NBA Lottery following the drafting of Howard: Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Lamarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, Bradon Roy, Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Mike Conley, Russell Westbrook, and reigning NBA MVP Derrick Rose to name a few. I am never a fan of playing the “what if” game, but when you continually shot yourself in the foot like the Orlando Magic do, you have no other choice.
The shortened 2011-12 NBA season is officially about to begin, and rumors are swirling around the NBA that the Orlando Magic could possibly do the unthinkable and trade Dwight Howard. If you’re a realistic person however, it is not unthinkable, instead losing Howard should be considered inevitable. The Magic are going to have to rebuild the franchise from the ground up if they don’t get a few other big time playmakers in Orlando. Holding on to Dwight Howard while he is about to enter his prime as a NBA superstar, with no other superstar power around him, isn’t fair to him. Howard’s contract is up following this season, and although the Orlando Magic can offer him the most money on his new contract, about 30 million more than any other team, the future Howard sees in front of him in Orlando isn’t the most promising. The Magic will easily make the playoffs while Howard is around, but you don’t cement an NBA legacy by making the playoffs, you do so by winning championships, plural. If in fact Dwight Howard leaves Orlando, it has nothing to do with him being in a small market. I firmly believe that you can build a championship NBA team in Orlando; the Spurs did it in San Antonio. It goes beyond that, if Dwight Howard ends up leaving the Orlando Magic, it will have everything to do with its front office management and the player moves they’ve made over the course of his early 7-year NBA career.