Howard's future still in the air

AddThis

With the NBA trade deadline looming there is still an uncertainty on which NBA uniform Dwight Howard will be wearing after March 15.

The Orlando Magic have made it clear that they want to make a long term deal with the superstar center, but run the risk of losing him without receiving any compensation if he leaves due to free-agency next summer. The Magic have already suffered through a similar situation when they last NBA-great Shaquille O’Neal to the Los Angeles Lakers through free-agency.

Magic owner Rich DeVos concedes that Howard has all of the leverage on deciding which team he will suit up for at the start of next season. “Howard is going to look at his options [and choose] what's best for him and that may or may not coincide with my desires," DeVos said.

Howard has said he is open to staying with the Magic, but also has a wish list of other possible destinations. His list includes the New Jersey Nets, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, and the Chicago Bulls.

The Lakers and the Nets are the likely suitors to prepare an in-season trade offer. The Lakers would have to part with both forward Pau Gasol and center Andrew Bynum. While the Nets would have to give up numerous valuable players to work an in-season trade, similar to what the Knicks surrendered for Carmelo Anthony. The Nets would then be in position to offer max contracts to both Howard and point-guard Deron Williams.

The Mavericks and Bulls are hoping that Howard remains with the Magic throughout the season and becomes available in free-agency.

The Mavericks simply don’t have the trade assets to land Howard this season, but they are well-positioned to make a bid for him during free-agency. The Mavs are committed to creating more than $30 million in salary-cap space to bid on both Howard and Dallas-native Deron Williams.

The Bulls were the last team to make the cut on Dwight Howard’s wish list. Known as one of the deepest teams in the league and currently holding the best record in the Eastern Conference, the Bulls might just approach this season’s play-off run with their current roster. If the Bulls fail to make the NBA Finals, they will likely make a serious attempt to make the Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard dream duo scenario into a reality.

The Magic are intent on leaving the trade-talk until after the All-Star Game in Orlando on Feb.26. The 18 days between the All-Star Game and the March 15 trade deadline will be critical for the future of both Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic franchise.