The center has asked Orlando to send him to Brooklyn, and the Magic are close to satisfying Howard's request. A complex four-team trade is currently in the works between the Nets, Magic, Cavaliers and Clippers.
The deal would include 13 different players and four first-round draft picks. Brooklyn would receive Howard, Jason Richardson, Chris Duhon and Earl Clark. Orlando would get Brook Lopez, Luke Walton, Damion James, Shelden Williams, Amir Johnson and three first-round picks.
The Magic are trading a six-time All-Star, but aren't receiving a star in return. None of the players they are getting have ever made it to an All-Star game. Even the draft picks they are receiving likely won't be very high.
Before the Nets got into serious talks with the Magic about acquiring Howard, the Lakers seemed like the favorites to land D12. Los Angeles can offer Orlando the best deal by sending them Andrew Bynum. Bynum is only 24 years old, and is the best center in the NBA, besides Howard.
Orlando is reluctant to make a deal with Los Angeles because Bynum has just one year left on his contract. He won't commit to signing with the Magic beyond 2013, and Orlando fears that they could essentially lose Howard for nothing after one season of Bynum.
It's possible that Bynum wouldn't decide to stay with Orlando. However, the Magic are better off trading Howard to the Lakers, instead of the Nets.
Brooklyn is sending Orlando a package that is nowhere close to equal value for Howard.
Brook Lopez is a decent scorer, but because of his poor defense and rebounding, he will never be an outstanding center. The Magic will have to sign Lopez to a max-contract, which will limit what they can do in free agency.
The rest of the players they are getting are career backups, and the draft picks will likely all be late first-round picks. Superstars are rarely found at the end of the first round.
Completing this deal with the Nets will ensure that the Magic are mediocre for years to come. They will have enough good players to compete for a playoff spot, but their roster won't allow them to contest for a championship.
The Magic should take the risk and trade for Bynum. If the Lakers center decides to sign a long-term deal with Orlando, they will have a young superstar that they can build around. If Bynum decides to leave as a free agent, they can rebuild through the draft.
The worst thing an NBA team can be is average. Average teams don't have a shot at winning a title, but they aren't bad enough that they can get a franchise-changing player at the top of the draft.
Completing this trade with the Nets could put the Magic in the middle of the pack for years to come.