Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard, the league's best center, will take his talents elsewhere by next summer and may be coming to your favorite NBA team.
Such is the nature of the NBA.
Howard is scheduled for free agency at the end of the upcoming season and has told the Magic that he would not sign a contract extension before the expiration of the NBA's collective bargaining agreement on July 1 and will become a free agent.
The biggest thing right now is everybody understands I have one more year left, Howard told the Orlando Sentinel two weeks ago.
Howard added, I'm keeping my options open, but there's no other place I'd rather be than Orlando.
Recall before last summer, these were some of the exact same words that LeBron James was saying about Cleveland.
I think I'm happy in Cleveland, LeBron James told the Dan Patrick show in 2009. I have no plans on going anywhere and playing the game of basketball.
Want to hear something else James said before last summer?
I got a goal, and it's a huge goal, and that's to bring an NBA championship here to Cleveland, and I won't stop until I get it, James told NBA TV.
Here's what Dwight Howard told the Sentinel in the same interview:
But, at the same time, I do want to win, make sure everything is in line: our team, just everything from top to bottom, everybody is reaching for a championship. It can't be me and a couple other guys. It's gotta be the whole team - everybody on the staff. It's the same goal: the championship attitude. As of right now, I don't plan to be anywhere else besides Orlando.
Howard, perhaps even more blunt than James, has told his Orlando Magic team in essence to build a championship caliber team or else.
In 2009, Cleveland traded for four-time NBA champion Shaquille O'Neal in a desperate attempt to win in the playoffs. When they didn't win, James left.
Will the Magic pull out all the stops to win a title?
They tried last year by making a move for Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Gilbert Arenas, but that fell flat on the floor after their 4-2 series loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs.
In fact, the Magic have taken several steps back by making move after move since their 2009 appearance in the NBA Finals loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Now, the Magic's payroll is tied up in their max contracts of Gilbert Arenas and Howard, along with high-salary players like Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson, and J.J. Redick.
There isn't much that Magic GM Otis Smith can do with the roster and he is essentially stuck between a rock and a hard place.
On one hand, he needs to try something to improve the roster and make a title run in order to keep Howard in Orlando.
But then the Magic are a long shot to go far in the playoffs with the rising Chicago Bulls, the injury-healed Boston Celtics, and Big 3 Heat in the East, let alone win a title against the Kobe Bryant Lakers or champion Dallas Mavericks in the West.
And if they don't win and Howard leaves, Smith will have lost the opportunity to trade their best asset in Howard, thereby making the Magic's roster better for the future.
That is the reason why there is rampant speculation on the trading market regarding Howard, especially with the NBA Draft coming up on June 23.
Current rumors have him being traded to the Lakers for Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom or to the Golden State Warriors for Monta Ellis. ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy even suggested that the Heat should trade LeBron James for Howard.
Unless by some miracle the Magic can win an NBA title, Howard will leave Orlando next year for a team with promise or Orlando will try to get the best deal they can in a trade for Howard before that happens.
Just as LeBron James showed us the true nature of the NBA last year in The Decision, Dwight Howard or the Orlando Magic will have an important decision to make by next summer.
So watch out NBA fans, you may be seeing Dwight Howard in a new uniform with your favorite team.