Posted 12 December 2011 - 11:25 AM
As a Net fan I've been following this really closely this weekend.
Here's my take:
There is discord in the Orlando front office. Otis Smith doesn't want to dump Howard and has his hackles up about being forced to trade him to specific destinations. Howard went public yesterday with the fact that he feels he has "no relationship" with Otis and alluded to discussions with the owner, instead of Otis, about his future. Things are already getting uglier than the Melo/Denver stuff ever got. I think Dwight (via his agent) is leaning on ownership to make a move asap.
So what should Orlando do? Assuming they have decided they will trade him, they have two avenues to consider:
1. Rebuild - take youth and picks and dump as much salary back onto the trade partner as possible.
2. Reload/Contend - take veterans and whatever star power you can get back and try to keep winning without Dwight.
Orlando is opening a new arena this season and is hosting the All-Star game. Those are both reasons for them to want to keep winning. I bet they look at what Denver did after trading Melo (they landed veterans and some youth and played well to close out the year), and see this as a possible outcome. On top of that, Otis has lined up signings of Big Baby, Von Wafer and Jason Richardson... non of whom you would sign if you're going into a full rebuild.
So as of yesterday, it looks like Orlando, or at least Otis Smith, want to reload, not rebuild.
But then it appears that non of those 3 deals have actually been finalized. Why the delay? Is Orlando rethinking now that Howard has made it absolutely clear in public that he wants to be a Net, Laker or Mav? Are they considering a straight rebuild?
I think that's where we are right now.
From my perspective, NJ has the best package to offer them if they want to rebuild (Lopez, multiple 1st rounders, absorbing Turkoglu's albatross contract). However, if Orlando just wants to reload, then they will either need to get a 3rd team in the mix who will take Lopez/picks in return for sending their veteran star(s) to Orlando, or they will need Howard to make it known that he'll only extend with NJ (which it doesn't appear Howard is quite willing to do).
The word is that the Lakers have refused to send out both Gasol and Bynum in a deal for Howard. They also cannot absorb the Turkoglu contract and their picks are limited (and always at the end of the first round anyway). Unless they relent and send both their big men to Orlando, I really don't think they're going to get him.
Chicago seems to have a lot to offer, but the question remains: will Dwight extend there? Dallas has nothing they can send Orlando. Will another team jump in (like Golden State maybe?) and would Dwight want to extend there?
I suspect that Otis has been on the horn with every team in the NBA trying to figure this out.
All the while, I really like NJ's chances of making this happen.