Heisler: Welcome home Dwight, however briefly

So the winner in the Dwight Howard Derby is… Orlando?

Dallas?

We don’t know and now we won’t before June, 2013, with our big guy leaving more unsaid than said, as usual.

If Howard’s heart, soul, spleen, liver and whatever else he listed are in Orlando, why exactly doesn’t he sign long-term so he won’t have to go through this next season, again?

Yes, Dwight’s lovable but goofy, but the press may be missing an angle, or the real story—as usual–in the feeding frenzy to kiss the hem of his garment for the love he showed his community, or rail at him for wasting our time when we could have been making up rumors about other people.

Why can’t this be part of a master plan, delivering Dwight and/or Deron Williams to Dallas?

It would fit a lot of ways:

–Howard’s only demonstrated preference was his December request to be traded to New Jersey, avoiding a $25 million haircut for leaving as a free agent, enabling him to join DWill right away.

–Howard put the Mavericks and Lakers on his list, too, but both were imperfect choices.

–The Lakers were down to his worst-case scenario, with Kobe Bryant reportedly inviting Dwight to come rebound for him and Pau Gasol.

In any case, the Lakers were told Howard wouldn’t commit to stay if they traded for him.

(I can’t imagine Kobe saying that, but all that counts is how Dwight remembers it.)

(Howard’s people were actually fine with Los Angeles—if it was the Clippers. Unfortunately, the Clips couldn’t do it, or had no interest, noting that key piece DeAndre Jordan was on a new deal, giving him the right to reject a trade.)

–Mark Cuban and Howard’s agent, Dan Fegan, are all but blood brothers—but the Mavs would have had to gut themselves, dumping everyone but Dirk Nowitzki to get two near-maximum slots by July 1.

–Dwight didn’t like his any of his primary options. That’s an easy one. If he had, he would have planned to force a trade to the Nets or sign with them in summer, or take the Mavs’ one max slot.

–The Mavs just got another season, too, making two full max slots doable.

–If D12 and DWill, the Dallas native, are together on this, the Mavs just became the team with the whip hand in trade talks with the Nets. With the Mavs’ ability to create one max slot, the Nets would have to take what they were offered—here’s Lamar, Roddy and a pick or two for D-Will–knowing they get nothing otherwise.

–Oh, and Howard gives the Magic, which is far from hopeless, another season. Whether Dwight expects to stay—not enough to extend—he’s definitely relieved at finally getting everyone off his tochas.

–With Howard reversing himself, noting “bad advice,” it’s being assumed he has overruled or broken with Fegan.

Whatever the quality of the advice, Howard gets a lot of it, having broken with Aaron Goodwin before going to Fegan.

In any event, Howard hasn’t said anything about firing his agent.

And, coincidentally or not… whether by luck or design.. staying another season was the smart play with far better options in 2013!

No matter who melted down on the set at ESPN, Dwight’s the one with the options and the freedom. The Magic is under all the pressure, if team officials missed it in the joy of the moment, asserting their belief they can win a title… setting themselves up for an even bigger letdown if they don’t.

Titles are hard to come by. Even with recent wins over the Heat at home and the Bulls in Chicago, the Magic figures to have to upset one of them in spring just to make the East Finals.

This is really just a break in the action with everything still headed the same way it was.

Of course, at this point, everyone can use that break.

Mark Heisler is a regular contributor to SheridanHoops, LakersNation and the Old Gray Lady. His power rankings appear Wednesday and his columns appear Thursday. Follow him on Twitter.

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