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Report: Magic willing to wait until next summer to deal Dwight Howard

By Royce Young | NBA writer
Dwight Howard is waiting. We're all waiting. (Getty Images)

You know what would make this Dwight Howard nightmare even better? If it dragged out for another season, right? Right?

As Ken Berger of CBSSports.com has reported, the Magic don't appear to be in any kind of rush to get a Howard deal done, noting that the longer this goes, the less leverage Howard has to force his way anywhere. New general manager Rob Hennigan is playing this thing patiently, waiting for the right offer in order to maximize his team's return.

And that might include waiting until next summer. That's right, next. Via Sheridan Hoops:

A source told Sheridan Hoops that trade talks involving Howard, which the Orlando Magic just put on hold, could go on all summer – of 2013.

The Magic seemed ready to take the best current offer – such as the Brooklyn Nets' package headed by Brook Lopez – but are now determined to draw out the process in hope of getting better offers.

ESPN's Chris Broussard reported Tuesday that the Magic has told teams it will not move Howard now. Our source said new GM Rob Hennigan has decided that getting the best deal is the priority. That includes the possibility of bringing back Howard for a second season-long distraction, this time without the illusory hope of keeping him and further alienating their already dismayed fan base.

What's the benefit of waiting? You're going to have another lame duck season with Howard, probably more disgruntled than ever. But then again, that means you're going to have another season with the best center in basketball. And knowing Dwight, he might even get all emotional about Jameer Nelson and Glen Davis and the rest of the team and agree to an extension with Orlando for some reason, only to request a trade two weeks later. It could happen. It really could.

Rebuilding in the manner of letting Howard walk in 2013 though could be the best return the Magic are going to get. One of their top requests in these trade talks has been future financial flexibility. And if they're not able to staple Hedo Turkoglu or Jason Richardson to a Howard deal, the most flexibility they'll get is simply by letting Howard walk next summer. Sign-and-trade him somewhere, grab a big-time trade exception and maybe a pick or two and start moving on.

Rumored packages involing the Nets, Rockets, Cavaliers and Lakers have been floated but you can eliminate the Nets, at least until the trade deadline. Brooklyn appears to be Howard's desired destination, but after signing Brook Lopez -- who would be part of any Howard deal -- that trade can't happen until Jan. 15. And even then, the Magic probably feel they can do better than Lopez as the centerpiece.

It would be an unfortunate twist for Howard to just toil away in Orlando while we all know he wants out. It could do some scarring to their already restless fanbase. But this is a calculated manuever here by Hennigan and the Magic. They have to keep the best interests of the organization in mind and right now, they have the best center in basketball under contract for another season. They don't have to do anything.

Letting your star walk is an underrated way of getting the most return. The Cavs did it with LeBron, suffering through an ugly season, acquiring assets and eventually turning around with Kyrie Irving, Trisan Thompson, Dion Waiters and some financial flexibility. The Magic might be intrigued to do the same thing. Rememeber: Hennigan comes from Oklahoma City which is an organization that cleaned house to begin a rebuilding plan. He's likely not afraid to do that same in Orlando.

 
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