The tense and awkward relationship between Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy officially ended after the Orlando Magic fired head coach Stan Van Gundy on Monday afternoon.
Unfortunately, Van Gundy's firing may not have been enough to resolve their standoff with 2013 free agent-to-be Howard as a source close to Sheridanhoops.com claims that Howard still wants out of Orlando in order to begin a new chapter in his career.
At this point nobody knows how the Howard saga will end in Orlando. However, there is little doubt that it will end very soon. In all likelihood, Howard will not be a member of the Orlando Magic next season and all signs point to Brooklyn as his future home.
The Magic just don't have the pieces required to acquire a second superstar that could satisfy Howard in the short term. The team that acquires Howard will most likely have to take Hedo Turkoglu as well as the two years and $23.6 million he has remaining on his contract. The Nets are one of the few franchises that can accomplish this.
Howard has much more baggage than he did in December when he first requested a trade from Orlando. This season, he has waffled like a politician during an election year, thrown Van Gundy and recently deposed general manager Otis Smith under the bus and repeatedly spurned interested championship contending franchises.
Howard told a group of reporters that he couldn't see himself playing in Chicago because it was too cold there. However, his desired trade destination in Brooklyn is just as familiar with the blizzards and snowstorms as the Windy City but isn't nearly as equipped for a championship run. However, behind the scenes, Howard reportedly doesn't want to play second fiddle to another superstar, which is why trade talks with the Bulls and Lakers quickly dried up.
If Howard and the Magic take their uneasy partnership into next season, the Nets will be left in shambles after Deron Williams signs with Dallas and another one of their potential trade partners will disappear.
Watching Howard's evolution over the last eight years has been akin to watching Michael Corleone transform from the young Marine who wanted to avoid the family business, into the new mafia family Don. The 2012 Dwight Howard isn't the lean, brace-faced, 18-year-old who wanted nothing more than to win championships, become a Hall-of-Fame center and incorporate the Cross of Christ into the NBA logo. By all indications, Howard's priorities are topped by seeking a large media market to showcase his personality and maximize his opportunities as an endorser.
Although, he says the right things publicly, he has been very untrustworthy in regards to his commitment to Orlando. Ultimately, the Magic and Howard's negotiations over the summer will have reverberations throughout multiple franchises.
If Howard is dealt to the Nets, which many assume has been his target for almost a year, Williams will re-sign, and the Mavericks, who cleared millions in cap space and allowed 2012 Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler to walk in free agency, will be left scrambling to pick up the debris.
Howard has stated that if he does leave Orlando, he would rather leave in a sign-and-trade situation so that the Magic's cupboard isn't left bare. Howard is very shrewd. It's worth noting that the Nets acquiring Howard and re-signing Williams this summer would have been impossible if Howard had not exercised his option for the 2012-13 campaign.
Rather than quietly go about his business as Carmelo Anthony did during his final months in Denver last season,
Howard's trade saga has played out as a dysfunctional reality television meltdown. There won't be any car bombs or firing squads but like the Corleones, Howard's actions will likely leave a shattered franchise and fanbase in its wake.