There may not even be a “last” season for Dwight Howard in Orlando. With the 2011-2012 season facing cancellation, Howard may have already played his last game in a Magic uniform. One of the more interesting trade ideas to come up lately though has been a Dwight Howard for LeBron James swap.
With both players on max contracts, it works financially. The Heat just WITNESSED LeBron choking in the Finals and adding Dwight Howard would solidify their defense in an entirely different way. While losing LeBron’s defensive versatility might hurt a little, Howard’s effect on a defense is undeniable. If perimeter players are beat off the dribble, Howard is there to change or block the shot. And he shuts down even the best opposing centers. Andrew Bogut, in particular, has had almost no success against Howard.
What would LeBron do to the Magic? Well, for starters, it would keep them relevant. Rather than plunging into another “decade of darkness” as they did following the departure of Shaquille O’Neal, ostensibly the Magic would remain contenders in the departure of Dwight. They would need to find themselves a viable starting center, but even someone like Samuel Dalembert could fill that void and keep the Magic strong defensively.
A rotation of:
Jameer Nelson / Gilbert Arenas
J.J. Redick / Hedo Turkoglu
LeBron James / Hedo Turkoglu
Brandon Bass / Ryan Anderson
Samuel Dalembert / ?
That lineup could still win 55 to 60 games, much like the Magic have for the last three years, anyway. Playoff success might be harder to come by, but with another player like LeBron, he could potentially attract another top tier free agent after Arenas’ and Turkoglu’s contracts expire.
While as a Magic fan, it would not please me to see Howard “replaced” by LeBron, I find it more pleasing than the alternative, that the Magic plunge into irrelevance. Trading Howard to the Heat might set up a potential dynasty in Miami, but the Magic’s hope would have to be that LeBron is able to recruit another stud or two to join the Magic, just as Wade did in Miami. In seeing that happen, the Magic would become everything I detest about the Heat. But who doesn’t like winning? And I’d rather win games with LeBron than flounder in mediocrity for the next ten years…again.