The Orlando Magic want Dwight Howard to reconsider if he’d like to play for them next season. But Howard’s mind has been made up for a long time — and he wants out of central Florida.
So what happens next?
Presumably, Howard will come up with a second list of teams that he would be amenable to playing for long-term. It has long been known that the Mavericks, Lakers and Clippers were on Howard’s B-list.
But the Mavericks would rather wait a year and sign Howard as an unrestricted free agent without giving anything up.
The Lakers have said they are inclined to move forward with their team as it is currently constituted, with Steve Nash now aboard as the new point guard. (Did you hear what he said about it?)
And the Clippers? There is nothing there that would add up to equal value in a trade.
It is now crystal clear that the Rockets are getting ready to pounce, following Adrian Wojnarowski’s report that they plan to amnesty Luis Scola in order to clear the cap space to take on Howard, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Duhon and the Epcot Center — or some combination of most of those pieces. (For more on that, give a listen to this radio interview I did Thursday evening with Matt Pinto of WWLS in Oklahoma City.)
Daryl Morey is certainly showing himself to be a gambler, but Howard can up the ante — especially if he quickly comes up with a new list of acceptable destinations.
So that makes you wonder: What if the list was expanded to include the Atlanta Hawks and/or the Chicago Bulls?
Let’s look at the Bulls first: They have always felt they have the means to acquire Howard, because they not only have two good young players to include in a deal (Joakim Noah and Luol Deng/Taj Gibson), but they also own the rights to a future unprotected No. 1 draft pick that previously belonged to Charlotte and becomes unprotected in 2016 (the protection in 2015 is top 8). That is exactly type of asset that Orlando general manager Rob Hennigan is looking to acquire.
But there is no way in hell Chicago makes that trade without an assurance that Howard would stay long-term, and the last time they asked — about six months ago — they were told they were not a preferred destination.
Then there are the Hawks, who could presumably afford to surrender Al Horford and Jeff Teague along with three future No. 1 picks (they own the Rockets’ lottery-protected No. 1 in 2013, having received it from Brooklyn in the Joe Johnson trade). Teague is expendable now that Devin Harris has been acquired, and general manager Danny Ferry just brought in another good player who was born and raised in Georgia (like Howard) in Lou Williams.
Just some food for through as the Dwight Dwama (or Dwightmare, as they call it in Orlando) moves onto its inevitable next step.