Looking at the Magic tonight, you could see why they were so hesitant to trade Howard at the deadline, until he did an unprecedented about-face and committed himself for another year.
Coach Stan Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith’s future appear to be tied to Howard’s whims. Make no mistake, he doesn’t come back and make that commitment to the team without some form of control. If they underachieve in the playoffs, i.e. losing to Chicago or Miami, expect big changes at the top–even without assurances Howard will re-sign with the Magic for the long haul.
This team is completely built around his talents, particularly on defense and no substitute or combination of young players and draft picks will prevent the freefall that’s coming if and when Howard leaves.
Contrary to popular belief, I think the Magic will be better off letting Howard walk for nothing, hitting rock bottom and starting all over instead of wallowing with bad contracts and no future, good enough to make the playoffs but in no way a championship contender.
So while things may look bright for the Magic, at least for the time being, there’s always an ominous cloud hanging around this organization, the front office, coaches and roster until Howard actually does something of note.
The Magic have a lot of decisions to make over the next 15 months, and everything starts with the playoff run that begins less than a month from now.
The clock is still ticking