The Orlando Magic have reportedly rejected a trade for center Dwight Howard that involved Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum, Peter Vecsey of the New York Post reports.
It's unclear who else the Lakers offered to the Magic, but the rejection implies that either the pieces besides Bynum weren't enough to entice Orlando or Bynum was the only player that was part of the proposed deal.
Howard hasn't retracted his trade demands yet, even though the Magic have been winning as of late. (Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi)
A Western Conference executive told Vecsey I can tell you for a fact the Lakers offered Andrew Bynum and the Magic do not want him.
More than likely, if the Magic were to do business with the Lakers, they would be looking for an offer that involved both Bynum and power forward Pau Gasol before they even considered part ways with Howard. Despite his trade demands, Howard still remains too valuable, and Los Angeles lacks the depth of valuable pieces to manufacture a deal that revolves around only one of the aforementioned big men.
So, unless Bynum and Gasol aren't offered in the same package, then Howard can cross the Lakers off his list of preferred destinations. That leaves the New Jersey Nets and Dallas Mavericks.
Center Brook Lopez for the Nets would perhaps be the centerpiece in a deal for Howard, but may not be established or young enough for general manager Otis Smith to take a chance on. Also, Lopez may now be seen as injury-prone, having missed the first 31 games this season after breaking a bone in his right foot. Still, Smith might understand just how unavailable big men are in this day and age, forcing him to settle on acquiring the seven-footer.
As for the Mavericks, they also lack the pieces to trade to the Magic. All their valuable pieces are comprised of eight guys on their roster who are at least 32 years old. That means waiting to sign Howard via free agency either this summer, if he opts out, or next summer, if he decides to play for Orlando one more year and picks up his player option, which in turn means cutting a significant chunk of the roster.
With all this said, there might still be a good chance that Howard does actually stay with Orlando, especially if the Magic win consistently up to the March 15 trade deadline.
But could there be another, more inconspicuous reason to keep Howard around?
Another source told Vecsey that it's no secret Howard is dying to distance himself from coach Stan Van Gundy. In other words, could Van Gundy be gone before-or, instead of-Howard?