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What should Orlando do about Dwight Howard?

What do you do when your franchise player has one year left on his deal and there is uncertainty surrounding whether he will sign a new deal or test the market in free agency. Would you trade him or look for a trade?

That’s the dilemma for the Orlando Magic and their franchise center Dwight Howard. Now I know the rumours are going to be continuing for months about the “will-he, won’t he go” situation, but I thought I might as well put my opinions out there.

The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that Howard has not agreed to sign an extension with the Magic, despite what was reported last week and Dwight told reporters:

“There’s no truth to that. The biggest thing right now is everybody understands I have one more year left. I’m keeping my options open, but there’s no other place I’d rather be than Orlando. I want them to understand that.

“But, at the same time, I do want to win, make sure everything is in line — our team, just everything from top to bottom — and everybody is reaching for a championship.”

Howard is the best center in the NBA and would undoubtedly make any team better, and there isn’t any team who wouldn’t want him. What I can see is that this saga will drag out until next year and next summer when Howard becomes a free agent, sees what the situation is like in Orlando and then makes a decision.

The part about winning a championship is something every player wants, but let’s face it, the Magic are not winning a title next year, and unless they can pull off some amazing trades, the next few years. Orlando are committed to huge salaries for the next few years, which severely limits the flexibility to make trades. They traded for Hedo Turkoglu, who’s got about $30m and 3 years left on his contract, and swapped a bad contract in Rashard Lewis for an even worse one in Gilbert Arenas, who still has about $60m owed for the next few years. If Hedo and Arenas rediscover their old form, the Magic could make some noise in the playoffs (I’m not saying win anything), and at least get past the first round, which is of course better than last year.

After that, you’ve got the likes of JJ Redick, Chris Duhon, Brandon Bass and Quentin Richardson, all with money owed and years left on their contracts – hardly the basis for a championship team. And with the Heat and Bulls better in the East (we’ll see what the Knicks do in the summer), Orlando won’t be competing for a title in the near future.

That’s the problem for the Magic though – they are in a Catch 22 situation. Trade Howard now and get worse, or wait for a year and then lose him for nothing, and Cleveland knows how that turned out. What I think will happen is they will wait till the February deadline, if Dwight hasn’t signed an extension by then, trade him and get something back in return, a la the Carmelo Anthony trade from Denver to New York in February.

I’m not blessed with the gift of foresight, but let’s have a look at some possible destinations for Howard if he does want out of Orlando. Obviously cap situations can change (with the new CBA) and a lot can happen in a year. Here’s a few ideas if Howard wants to win a ring (I’m ruling teams like Miami out, as there’s no way they can afford to turn the Big 3 of Lebron, Wade and Bosh into a Big 4, as Howard’s going to get max money):

Lakers:

Now I know Dwight has said he doesn’t want to follow in Shaq’s footsteps and leave Orlando for LA. And the only way the Lakers are going to be able to get Howard is via trade, as they have the huge contracts of Kobe and Gasol on the books. And that requires Andrew Bynum being traded (I know the Lakers have declared him “untouchable”, but for Dwight, you would trade him). A Howard-Gasol-Kobe trio would be deadly.

Bulls:

Again, this would have to be a trade, as Chicago owe big money to Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joachim Noah over the next few years, and will have to pay max-money to Derrick Rose. But a Noah-Howard trade wouldn’t be that bad for Orlando, as Noah is a defensive force and one of the top centers in the league (unless Chicago can somehow persuade Orlando to take on Boozer’s contract).

Knicks:

Theoretically, the Knicks can afford to give Howard max-money next summer, and a trio of Howard-Anthony-Stoudemire would be exciting. But that’s all the Knicks would be able to afford, and with a thin roster, would have no quality at the guard spots. An interesting proposal, and you are bound to hear constant Howard to NY rumours until he makes up his mind, but wouldn’t it be better for New York to have a more well-rounded team with a quality PG and a couple of quality defensive wings in there?

Nets:

The Nets have the cash and an elite PG in Deron Williams. That’s it though, as they are rebuilding, have traded away their last lottery pick in Derrick Favors, and given this year’s pick (#3) to Utah. They would be able to give Howard max money and if they can convince Williams to stay, New Jersey is appealing, especially with the upcoming move to Brooklyn.

What do you think? Do you think Howard will stay or go?

 

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Will Chris Bosh be traded before next month’s deadline?

Speculation is rife in the NBA at the moment that Toronto’s All-Star forward Chris Bosh is set to be traded before next month’s trade deadline. The general consensus is that Bosh will bolt from Toronto in the summer as a free agent, and join a bigger market franchise in a bid to win a championship. I mentioned on this blog last summer that the Raptors should have traded Bosh then, but now the team is faced with a dilemma: take their chances with CB4 and hope he decides to stay or do a sign and trade in the summer, or trade Bosh now and try and get some young talent back in return that the franchise can build on in the future. And as long as Toronto can get some decent pieces back, I believe they could be tempted to trade their prized asset.

The Raptors have tried to keep Bosh happy and encourage him to stay north of the border. Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo signed Hedo Turkoglu to a big money deal last summer, as well as Jarrett Jack from the Pacers, as well as inking Andrea Bargnani (who they see as their future franchise player) to a 5 year extension. So you can’t accuse Colangelo of doing a Pat Riley in Miami and refusing to surround Dwayne Wade with talent this season. So far Bosh is having a monster season, averaging 23.8 points and 11 boards and leading the Raptors to a .500 record (21-21), which is 7th in the East. Therefore, there are plenty of teams that would snap up the 6-10 forward in a heartbeat.

I’m going to break down some of the trade rumours surrounding Bosh and decide where the Raptors should trade CB4 if they want to blow things up. First things first, there is no point in Bosh being traded to the likes of the T’Wolves, Memphis or New Jersey, because there is no chance he will re-sign when he becomes a free agent in the summer. There are plenty of valuable expiring deals out there (that’s you T-Mac) and some deals people won’t touch with a bargepole (yes, you Eddy Curry and Jared Jeffries). But here are some trade deals for Bosh that could work:

Bosh to the Lakers for Andrew Bynum:

This is the ideal trade for both teams. Bynum has a ton of potential and plays better for the Lakers when Gasol is not in the team. The Raptors would get a valuable piece back and a true center they can build around, with Bargnani and Turkoglu. The Lakers would have the most formadible frontcourt in the league with Gasol at center and Bosh at PF, and Bosh would relish the chance to play under Phil Jackson and have a chance to win a ring now. I like this trade, whether the Lakers would want to trade Bynum is debatable, considering his potential and how long they have been developing him.

Bosh to the Bulls for Tyrus Thomas, Kirk Kinrich:

The Bulls would love this: they would get a legitimate low-post scorer in Bosh and CB4 would definetly be an offensive upgrade over Thomas. And Bosh would fit in well with the rebounding machine that is Joachim Noah, and Chicago would be glad to get rid of Tyrus Thomas and his bloated contract. Also, the Bulls would have a chance to contend right now, pairing Bosh with point guard Derrick Rose and the Bulls would be a force in the East.

Tyrus Thomas has a good upside but has never fully fulfilled his potential in Chicago. That could happen with a change of scenery though. Whether Thomas and Kinrich are a good enough return for a franchise player remains to be seen. It’s an excellent deal for Chicago and they would pull the trigger in a heartbeat, but the Raptors might be apprehensive and may prefer Noah instead of Thomas.

Bosh to the Thunder for Jeff Green, expiring contracts (Etan Thomas)

This could be a legitimate deal for both teams. The Raptors get a good young player in Green and save some money, which is always good in the current climate. The Thunder get the big man they desperately need, and can team him with their young core of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. This would make the Thunder an automatic contender out West, as Bosh is going to be a 20-10 player for the next five years and Durant is going to be a beast, a top 5 player in the league for years to come (he’s only 21 and is averaging 29.1 points a game).

If Bosh was traded to Oklahoma, I could see him signing on in the summer as part of a team that could challenge for championships for the next decade.

These trades are ultimately just rumours. Personally, I can see Toronto keeping Bosh and taking their chances in the summer. I think CB4 will leave the Raptors in the summer though, leaving the Raptors with nothing, and join D-Wade in Miami or Lebron in Cleveland. And then the Raptors will be wishing they had pulled the trigger now…