Dwight Howard is one of my favourite NBA players; a monster on the defensive end, he’s developing more of an offensive game than just being a dunker, he carries that Orlando team on his back every single night and he has an infectious personality, which reminds me of another Orlando big man, Shaq. However, as much personality as Dwight has, sometimes I wish he would either put up or shut up and stop dragging us towards a LeBron James-esque ‘decision.’ We’ve been hearing for months now how Dwight wants to stay in Orlando with the Magic, but his latest comments reported on nba.com, have Howard as saying he’d like to stay with the Magic (what’s new), but he would test free agency in 2012, unless – big caveat – Orlando wins the title next season.
Orlando has a two year extension on the table which is the maximum that can be offered under the current collective Bargaining Agreement. If, Dwight Howard, like he says, wants to stay in Orlando, then he should either shut up and sign up, or the Magic should trade him and not risk becoming the next Cleveland after he decides he wants to test the waters of free agency and go elsewhere.
Cleveland lost LeBron last summer as he put off signing an extension long before last summer’s ‘decision.’ Toronto lost Chris Bosh in the same way and look at those two franchises now. Orlando really needs to follow the example of Utah, who traded Deron Williams to New Jersey for risk of seeing him walk away and be left with nothing.
We don’t know how the new CBA is going to play out and whether there will be a hard salary cap or not, but Orlando should be looking to trade Howard once this is sorted, if he doesnt sign on the dotted line. This will at least get them some pieces back that they can work with, rather than going back to relying on the draft lottery. Rumours were circulating that any deal would have to include Gilbert Arenas’ huge $17m contract, but this may prove too much of a price for any team to pay. So, Orlando may have to swallow this, as getting something for Howard has to be more crucial than getting nothing – and still be left with Agent Zero’s big paycheck of six zeros preceded by a big fat seventeen.
Howard may be biding his time, so he can weigh up whether he’ll look better in a New Jersey, LA or Chicago uniform and who he can play with, preferring to let the dust settle elsewhere before he makes up his mind. However, Orlando shouldn’t let it come to this and trade him once the ink on the new CBA is dry. Dwight, it’s time to put up and sign a contract extension or shut up and be traded, so the organization isn’t left with nothing when you skip town. Don’t hold Orlando to ransom, the franchise is always bigger than any one player.