More likely than not, Dwight Howard will be traded before the start of the 2012-13 NBA Season.
The center has made it clear that he won't re-sign with Orlando when his contract expires in the summer. Howard is one of the most valuable players in the league and the Magic want to make sure that they don't lose him for nothing.
While Howard will likely be on a new team in a few months, he could still be a member of the Magic for the foreseeable future. Orlando has been exploring possible deals for him in the past few weeks, but hasn't been able to come to an agreement with anybody.
Since the season doesn't start for a few more months, Howard could be with Orlando for the foreseeable future. According to Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated, the Magic are hopeful that they can complete a deal by early August.
Even if Orlando reaches that target date, Howard could still be with the team for another two weeks.
The Lakers seem like the most likely landing spot for Howard. They are willing to trade Andrew Bynum in a deal, and Howard would reportedly decide to stay in Los Angeles after next season.
The uncertainty of Bynum's future, however, has held up a potential trade.
Bynum is also a free agent in the summer, and won't commit to signing an extension anywhere. Orlando is unwilling to acquire the big man because they don't want to lose him after just one season. The Cavaliers have been brought in as a potential third team to help facilitate a deal, but they are also wary of trading for Bynum.
Perhaps the most likely way Bynum could be traded in a deal for Howard is if the Rockets get involved. Houston has had its eye on both Howard and Bynum, and could send draft picks and young players to Orlando in a deal that would net them Bynum. There's a chance they could agree to a trade without a guarantee from L.A.'s big man.
With a Lakers trade on hold, the Magic have limited options. The Nets seemed to be Howard's future team, but a deal between Brooklyn and Orlando won't happen any time soon. Brook Lopez would be the centerpiece of a trade between the two clubs, but he can't be moved until Jan. 15 because he just signed a new contract.
The Magic have hit some potential roadblocks in moving their star player, but there could be other reasons why Howard is still on the team. Orlando general manager Rob Hennigan has publicly expressed an interest in moving on from Howard, but there's a chance the Magic don't really intend to trade him.
Orlando has had discussions with other teams for most of the offseason and it's hard to believe the offers will get much better. If the Magic don't move him soon, there's no telling when Howard will be sent elsewhere.