On Thursday the news broke that Orlando Magic Center, Dwight Howard, requires season ending back surgery that will keep him out the of the remainder of the NBA season to include the playoffs and the 2012 Olympics this Summer in London. Was this the perfect scenario for Howard to fall into?
All season long up until the NBA trade deadline the talk of the Association was where would Dwight Howard be traded to? Howard had made his desire to be shipped out of small market Orlando public so most NBA fans knew it was just a matter of time before he was dealt. The Magic front office had their backs up against the wall as if they didn’t trade Howard he would become an unrestricted free agent following the season and the team would lose him while getting nothing in return. As the trade deadline approached more and more speculation arose as to Howard’s destination but for one reason or another, the rumors never materialized in deals. Then, like a desperate magician with one trick left in his hat, the Magic offered Howard an unprecedented amount of control over the team. If he committed to the Magic beyond this season Howard would have the ability to fire the coach.
According to an April 6th article by the NewYorkPost.com as well as multiple other sources, Howard indeed asked management to fire current Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy at the end of the season. That says that Howard had no faith in his team’s chances this NBA postseason. If the so-called star of your team doesn’t believe in what the team is doing then why the hell even play. Because of his disbelief in the direction under Van Gundy the Magic were nothing but superficial contenders going into the playoffs with Howard despite having a 2-2 record this season against the Miami Heat, one of the NBA’s Eastern Conference elite teams.
Now, with Howard out for the playoffs the Magic don’t stand a chance. The trickle effect will be that his absence will likely result in an early playoff exit for Orlando that will in-turn justify the firing of Van Gundy in a distorted sort a way. Additionally, the Orlando Magic organization will truly get to see Dwight’s value as the team will likely appear discombobulated in his absence. This will drive his value up not only in Orlando but across the NBA as he potentially faces another opportunity to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2013 season if the Magic can’t sign him long-term.
Make no mistake about it. In no way am I insinuating that Howard is glad to be sitting out for the rest of the season or was somehow hoping for this sort of scenario. Nevertheless, he could greatly benefit from his injury.
With that said, Dwight Howard should be careful for what he asks for. The number of NBA coaches currently in the league who are better that Stan Van Gundy can be counted on three fingers. One coaches the Boston Celtics, another the Chicago Bulls, and the third the San Antonio Spurs. Not to bust Howard’s bubble but Orlando isn’t getting any of those guys.
As of now it may appear that Howard is having his cake and eating it too, but in the end he may very well be eating a slice of humble pie.
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