The once proud foundation of Orlando is crumbling. Center Dwight Howard is holding Orlando hostage and is bringing down the franchise. The all-star center doesn't want to be there, and he has no interest in playing for the Magic anymore. The team is desperately trying to move the imposing 7-footer, but so far they haven't been able to swing a deal with anyone because the value of Howard -- a double-double machine -- is through the roof.
The future of Orlando relies solely on how they handle Howard this off-season. Once they can figure out how to deal Howard and for what, then they can get a better idea of what they have and where they are headed.
Howard was selected by Orlando with the 1 pick in the 2005 draft and led the Magic to the 2009 NBA Finals but the relationship has soured significantly in the last year. Strangely, Howard could have become a free-agent this summer but inexplicably waived an early termination clause that keeps him around under contract with Orlando for another year. Howard averaged 20 points and 14 rebounds a game last season but hurt his back late in the season and missed the playoffs as the Magic were ousted by Indiana in the first round.
Once the Howard dust is settled, Orlando has another issue to resolve and that's finding a new a coach after they fired Stan Van Gundy who Howard reportedly wasn't happy with.
If you look at what Orlando did this off-season to improve it's hard to find any positives. They lost the stroke of Ryan Anderson to New Orleans in a sign and trade for forward Gustavo Ayon. The 6'-10 Anderson averaged 16 points and 7 rebounds for the Magic last season. Letting him go didn't make much sense as he was one for the few bright spots for the Magic.
In the draft, the Magic took Andrew Nicholson out of St. Bonaventure with the 19th overall pick. The 6'-10' Nicholson averaged 18 points and 8 rebounds a game in his senior season with the Bonnies. The Magic also took another center with their second round pick, selecting Kyle O'Quinn out of Norfolk State.
Orlando has to figure out what to do at the point guard spot because long-time starter and one-time all-star Jameer Nelson is a free agent. Guard Chris Duhon has two years left on his deal so he could be the starter if Nelson does not return.
The Magic still have in the fold aging guard Jason Richardson and forward Hedo Turkoglu who are both coming off sub-par seasons. Both could be possible trade bait for a contender at next season's trade deadline. Veteran forward Glen Davis also returns and he was decent in his first season with Orlando, averaging 9 points and 5 rebounds, mostly off the bench. Shooting guard J.J. Redick is back and he provided a spark off the bench, scoring 12 points a game.
After Howard, the talent level drops off considerably so they must get some value when and if they can trade Howard. Until they can deal Howard, the Magic are in a holding pattern. It is a tough time in Disney World.