Dwight Howard has probably played his last game with the Orlando Magic.
The 26-year-old center has been the subject of intense trade speculation as he enters the final year of his contract. Orlando will likely pull the trigger on a deal this offseason, as Howard's presence could be a major distraction for the Magic in the 2012-2013 season.
According to reports, Howard has indicated that he would like to be dealt to the Brooklyn Nets. However, the Magic don't appear keen on what they would receive in return.
The problem with any potential deal for Howard hinges on whether he would sign a contract extension. The Los Angeles Lakers were a possible destination for Howard, but Howard reportedly had private discussions indicating that he would not re-sign with L.A.
There are not many other teams who can make a real offer to Orlando. The Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, and Dallas Mavericks are also reportedly interested, but Howard has not expressed wanting to play with any of those team, and the Magic would likely balk at what any of those clubs offer.
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However, one team that might be in the mix is the New York Knicks. A possible deal involving Amare Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert for Howard and shooting guard Jason Richardson could benefit both clubs.
For Orlando, they would receive Stoudemire, a Florida native, who probably needs a change of scenery after a rather lackluster season in New York. Stoudemire has a career-scoring average of 21.6 point per game, and has shot 53.3 percent from the field. Though not nearly as effective a rebounder as Howard, Stoudemire is still a strong presence in the interior. The 29-year-old is under contract for another three seasons, and would likely enjoy a return to central Florida.
In Shumpert, the Magic gain an athletic defender who is not a burden on their payroll. The 22-year-old shooting guard finished his rookie season with a respectable 9.5 scoring average. Orlando would also get younger by dropping Richardson, 31, and lose the burden of rather bloated contract. The Magic would prefer to part ways with Hedo Turkoglu, but the forward is not an appealing trade piece due an even less attractive contract.
Still, Orlando would save about $4 million in cap space with a deal that didn't include Turkoglu.
The Knicks want to re-sign guard J.R. Smith, which makes a possible addition of Richardson difficult. It's unclear if the Knicks will match Toronto's offer for Landry Fields.
New York would also have to figure out how center Tyson Chandler would fit in their plans. New York had some chemistry issues with Carmelo Anthony, Chandler and Stoudemire, and should Howard join the Knicks, it might be difficult to have Chandler and Stoudemire on the floor at the same time since they are both low-post players with limited skills on the perimeter.
If the Knicks want to include Chandler in a deal with Orlando, it would become immediately more desirable for the Magic, as Turkoglu would be included, though Shumpert excluded. Orlando would take on an extra $2 million in payroll in such a deal.
Howard may be inclined to re-sign with the Knicks. His interest in the Nets appears to involve his desire to play with Deron Williams. With the addition of Jason Kidd to New York, and the probable return of Jeremy Lin, Howard may want to accept a possible deal, and sign an extension with the Knicks.
Playing with Anthony and Kidd, and having the chance to bring the Knicks their first title since 1973, might be too good to pass up.