With the Magic off the a better-than-expected start, it was starting to look like Orlando might be able to hang on to Dwight Howard. But a string of ugly losses (67 points? Against the Hornets?) have made "so where do you want to go, Dwight?" the number one question in every post-game news conference.
The problem is, the Magic don't have an obvious trade partner. Howard is reportedly willing to sign long-term with the Nets or Lakers and possibly the Clippers or Bulls. But Orlando owner Rich DeVos doesn't want to lose another all-star big man to the Lakers. The Magic are likely to insist that any team acquiring Howard also take Hedo Turkoglu and his awful contract, which has two years and over $23 million yet to go. To take on Howard and Turkoglu, the Lakers would almost certainly need to deal both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, and Mitch Kupchak doesn't want to do that. The Nets' odds of acquiring Howard got much longer when Brook Lopez went down with a stress fracture in his foot. Lopez is expected back before the trade deadline, but it's very hard to say whether or not he'll be 100 percent healthy, or if the Magic would be interested in a big man that suddenly has a major red flag on his resume.
Chicago and the Clippers have also been mentioned as possible destinations, but it's not clear if either of those teams are legitimate suitors.
Lurking in the background: the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs probably can't get Howard in a trade, but as ESPN's Larry Coon points out, they could potentially clear enough salary to make a run at both Howard and Deron Williams via free agency this summer. To do so, they'd probably need to unload Shawn Marion for expiring contracts at the deadline and then amnesty Brendan Haywood after the season.
Any move is probably several weeks away, as the Magic are expected to hang on to Howard through the all-star game; they're playing host this year.
Picks for the Week
The first set of picks is for players in standard leagues - guys who may be available in your average 10 team/15 player roster league. The second group is for owners in very deep leagues, and will be based more on speculation than actual numbers.
I'll give percent owned stats for both Yahoo! and ESPN/NBA.com leagues with each pick - first number is Yahoo, ESPN/NBA is second. If you play some other league/format, let me know in the comments and I'll do what I can to accommodate.
Anthony Morrow (69%/90.2%) - Appears that MarShon Brooks (broken toe) will be out for a while, which means Morrow will have to pick up the slack.
Marcus Camby (57%/72.3%) - Yeah, he's old. And brittle. He's also capable of pulling down 58 rebounds in a three-game span. That's just silly. And while he came back to earth on Monday against the Jazz, with just four boards in 28 minutes, he supplemented his rebounding with four blocks.
Jared Dudley (57%/26%) - Alvin Gentry's latest lineup shuffle returns Dudley to the starting lineup.
James Johnson (41%/43.8%) - Settling into a regular role as Toronto's primary small forward. He's mainly a defense-and-rebounding guy who won't score a lot, but that makes him a very nice complement to Andrea Bargnani and a good fit for Dwayne Casey's system.
Rodrigue Beaubois (39%/57.8%) - With Jason Kidd hurting (and, y'know… old) Beaubois is getting an opportunity to show what he can do. Finally healthy, he could become what JJ Barea was for the Mavs during last year's title run.
Ramon Sessions (32%/4.2%) - Sessions' name is coming up more and more in trade rumors, with the Los Angeles Lakers reportedly a major suitor. He'd be a great fit at the Staples Center.
Jerryd Bayless (18%/7.1%) - The injury to Andrea Bargnani has made Bayless a more important part of Toronto's offense. There have also been reports that the Raptors are shopping Jose Calderon - a trade could make Bayless Toronto's starter at the point.
Jordan Farmar (11%/12.3%) - The injury to MarShon Brooks means Farmar - who had carved out a fairly substantial role off the bench anyway - will be asked to do even more.
Matt Bonner (7%/2.0%) - Gregg Popovic's latest rotation shuffles have made Bonner a bigger part of the offense. He'll hit threes for you when he's getting run.
Shawne Williams (3%/0.0%) - In theory, Williams chose to sign with the Nets over the Knicks because New Jersey would give him a chance to start. He may finally get that opportunity now, but it took injuries to both MarShon Brooks and DeShawn Stevenson to get there.
Shaun Livingston (3%/0.0%) - Played well enough as a fill-in at shooting guard that Scott Skiles seems content to give him the role on a full-time basis.
Reggie Williams (2%/0.0%) - Talented shooter should make his Charlotte Bobcat debut this week. On a team that struggles to score points, Williams should get regular playing time at the two and three spots.
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