ORLANDO FL - FEBRUARY 13: Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic drives against Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the game at Amway Arena on February 13 2011 in Orlando Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and or using this Photograph user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Dwight Howard's willingness to be dealt to Los Angeles doesn't mean that is Orlando's best option
So Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard has decided he's just fine with being dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Makes sense, right?
Well, not really.
First of all, Magic officials are very worried about Bynum's lengthy injury history.
Plus, there have been reports Bynum wouldn't want to stay in Orlando beyond next season.
The Magic would rather use this opportunity to rid themselves of a few of their many bad contracts (Glen Davis, Chris Duhon, Jason Richardson, Quentin Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu) and collect both young talent and draft picks so they can basically start from scratch.
It appears as though a straight up Magic-Lakers trade would very hard to complete because of that hesitance on both Orlando and Bynum's part.
In fact, Cleveland has been the hot name over the last few days, but it seems like the Magic can do better.
Sure, Cleveland would be able to take on a couple of bad deals, but the Magic would have to take back Anderson Varejao. Don't get me wrong, Varejao is a good player who any team could use, but he's owed $8,368,182 next season and $9,036,364 during the 2013-14 season. Varejao will be 30 by the time the season starts. There are rumors the Magic would simply buy out Varejao, but part of his salary would still count against the cap. Varejao is a client of Howard's agent Dan Fegan. The Magic look like they would prefer not to work with Fegan any more.
Varejao averaged 10.8 points and 11.5 rebounds per game in 25 games last season.
Now Cleveland does have plethora of draft picks, something the Magic covet, but the picks aren't exactly valuable.
In 2013, Cleveland owns their own pick and the pick of the Miami Heat (top 10 protected in 2013 and '14, unprotected in '15) and can choose to swap one of those picks with the pick of the Lakers. They also own the pick of the Sacramento Kings, but it is top 13 protected.
They also own another Heat pick, which would be dealt to Cleveland two years after the Heat deal their first pick to the Heat (presumably in 2013). The pick becomes unprotected in 2017.
You're talking about the defending champion Heat, a Laker team that would have added Howard and Steve Nash and a Cavalier team, led by Bynum and Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving. In other words, the Magic would get several picks in the 20's (mostly late 20's).
Cleveland could sweeten the deal with some of the prospects they've acquired recently.
Obviously, Irving isn't an option.
Former Texas big man Tristan Thompson was selected fourth overall by Cleveland in the 2011 draft. The 6'9, 227 lb. power forward, averaged 8.2 points and 6.5 rebounds in 23.7 minutes per game in his rookie season. He shot 43.9% from the floor and 55.2% from the free throw line.
Cleveland also held the fourth overall pick in this year's draft and used that pick to select Syracuse guard Dion Waiters. Waiters averaged 12.6 points, 2.5 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game with the Orange during the 2011-12 season.
The Cavaliers also traded up to acquire North Carolina big man Tyler Zeller with the 17th overall pick. Zeller, who played all four years for the Tar Heels, put up 16.3 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game en route to being named ACC Player of the Year.
However, Cleveland doesn't look like they are willing to part with any of those three players.
If the Cavaliers were willing to part with any of those prospects, the Magic would have to think long and hard about a deal.
It still appears the Houston Rockets have the best mix of prospects, cap relief and draft picks.
The Rockets have several young prospects they may be willing to part with. In the 2010 draft, the Rockets selected Kentucky forward Patrick Patterson. Patterson averaged 7.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last season. The Rockets again had the 14th pick in the 2011 draft and took Kansas forward Marcus Morris (he averaged 2.4 points per game in 17 games). They also took Central Florida native Chandler Parsons (Lake Howell High School) with the 38th overall pick. Parsons surprised many as a rookie, averaging 9.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.
All three players are potential pieces in a Magic-Rockets deal.
The Rockets also own plenty of picks. They owe their 2013 pick to the Atlanta Hawks via the Brooklyn Nets, but the pick is top 14 protected over the next three seasons and they would only have to give up second rounder in 2017 if they finish in the lottery in each of the next three seasons. The Rockets own Dallas's pick, which is top 20 protected in 2013 through 2017. It becomes unprotected in the 2018 draft.
Their biggest asset Houston may have is the rights to Toronto's 2013 pick they received in exchange for point guard Kyle Lowry. It is top three protected in 2013, top two protected in 2014 and 15 and top one protected in 2016 and 17. It is unprotected in 2018.
The Raptors look like they aren't quite bad enough to earn a top 3 pick in 2013 without a lot of luck, but still appear to be destined for the lottery.
The Rockets also had the 12th, 16th and 18th picks in last month's draft. They used those picks to select Connecticut guard Jeremy Lamb (17.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game), Iowa State forward Royce White (13.1 points, 9.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game) and Kentucky forward Terrence Jones (12.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game).
The Magic could probably pry two of those players away. All three have been very impressive in the Las Vegas Summer League.
It appears like the Rockets easily offer Orlando the most return, but that all depends on what they, and the Cavaliers, for that matter, are willing to give up.