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Should Magic trade Dwight Howard?

With the trade deadline just a day away and the Dwight Howard saga taking yet another twist, surely you've got more Magic questions. We've got answers:

1. Fact or Fiction: The Magic should trade Dwight Howard.

Jim Cavan, KnickerBlogger: Fact. Dwight's indecisiveness should be setting off alarm bells among Orlando management. At this point, if you're the Magic, you forget about "rolling the dice" -- at the very least, that would mean sacrificing a potential first-rounder to any prospective trade partner. With Monta Ellis -- one of the few guys Howard claimed might keep him in Central Florida -- headed to Milwaukee, you have to trade D12 now and hope against hope that you get a Melo-type haul in return.

Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: Fact. The only way I can envision the Magic keeping him is if they win a championship, and even that would give him an out -- he would have fulfilled his duty. They need to get as many pennies on the dollar as they can for him, and quickly.

Beckley Mason, ESPN.com: Fiction. They just beat the top two teams in the East and look like a legitimate threat to the Bulls or Heat in a playoff series. There's no "equal value" trade out there for Howard, at least that I've heard. If he leaves, tank and rebuild.

Danny Nowell, Magic Basketball: Fiction. For whatever bizarre reason, the Magic are showing a consistent ability to compete at a high level through the drama. The past 24 hours have done nothing to increase the Magic's leverage with potential trade partners. Nothing material has changed since the team decided to try to keep Dwight, and righteous indignation is no sound basis for basketball decisions.

Michael Wallace, ESPN.com: Fact. I absolutely love Dwight as a player and what little I know of him as a person. But as an employer, I wouldn't trust him at this point. He's been all over the map. The Magic simply can't afford this high-stakes gamble.


2. Fact or Fiction: The Nets should wait for free agency to get D12.

Cavan: Fact. But only in the sense that this is the best way to assure that D-Will and D12 aren't left playing with D-League call-ups or NBA flotsam. If you're the Nets, you have to be thinking Otis Smith knows Dwight's flip-flopping means the latter is likely gone come summer. As such the Magic will be looking for the best available trade option. So the Nets have to make a good offer if they want to guarantee an all-world nucleus.

Kharpertian: Faction. Free agency provides the biggest risk/reward -- they have to hope that (A) the Magic don't trade him somewhere else, and (B) he doesn't fall in love with that destination. But it also gives them the ability to retain important assets, notably Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks and their 2012 draft pick -- bound to be high if they don't acquire Dwight in the next two days.

Mason: Fact. This is the best-case scenario for the Nets, who may be able to afford not gutting the team entirely in order to bring Dwight to Brooklyn. The risk is that free agency brings increased competition and the chance that the Nets' hitherto dysfunctional franchise looks far less attractive under that bright light.

Nowell: Fact. Once the smoke cleared from last year's Melo-drama, it became clear the Knicks blew it by giving up assets to acquire a free agent who wanted to play for them anyway. The Nets would be wise to take notice -- Howard is clearly ready to wait on the Nets if it means joining a team with the potential for growth.

Wallace: Fiction. See my answer to No. 1 -- it applies here, too. The Nets should push hard to get this deal done now. Letting Dwight get recruited and pampered on a free-agency recruiting tour would be way too risky.


3. Fact or Fiction: The Lakers and Knicks should get into the mix.

Cavan: Fact: With the situation in Gotham deteriorating fast (and Melo reportedly disgruntled), Glen Grunwald should be seriously considering offering Anthony and -- this is the tragic part that would make me second-guess such a move -- Tyson Chandler for Howard and Hedo Turkoglu. When all's said and done, this very well could be the best option available to the Magic. The only question is whether James Dolan is ready to abandon his Carmelo gambit and fall on his sword.

Kharpertian: Fact. Why not? Dwight Howard is the best center in the game, and it's not a discussion. The other 29 teams should all be on the line trying to acquire him even as a rental, and the Knicks and Lakers would be the right fan bases to convince him to stay.

Mason: If the Knicks can make a Howard and Turkoglu for Chandler and Anthony trade today they should do it immediately. However, that would be a choice to go with D'Antoni rather than Anthony. In other words: it ain't happening. The Lakers will, and should, also try to make a move using Andrew Bynum, but simply replacing their center won't solve their depth and contract issues.

Nowell: Fact. Why not try to take advantage of an erratic front office made even more unpredictable by their pride? Dwight Howard would instantly be the best player on the Knicks, Lakers or, for that matter, most teams in the league. Why not try to capitalize on the media maelstrom?

Wallace: Fact. The Lakers, in fact, are already in the mix. The Knicks can offer far more attractive pieces, sans Deron Williams, than the Nets. New York is New York. So Dwight doesn't lose in a market trade-off there. But it's also about what Orlando wants to take back.


4. Fact or Fiction: The Orlando organization has let Dwight down.

Cavan: Fiction-ish. Otis Smith has certainly made his share of roster blunders, but if last year's Nuggets proved anything, it's that a disgruntled star can single-handedly destroy the kind of fragile chemistry necessary to contend. Even with this sordid soap opera dominating the narrative, the Magic remain in third place in the East. This is a good team. Now imagine if Dwight hadn't -- verbally and psychologically, anyway -- checked out months ago.

Kharpertian: Faction. Stan Van Gundy made Dwight into the player he is today, so from a developmental perspective, they've let him flourish. On the business side, Dwight wanted a washed-up Gilbert Arenas and an overpriced Glen Davis. He made those calls. But Otis Smith never had to put them through, and the money wasted on players not worth their time falls on the front office.

Mason: Fact. Not saying it's an excuse for Howard's uncanny ability to fit his entire foot in his mouth, but trading Rashard Lewis for Gilbert Arenas, then Brandon Bass for Glen Davis, was indefensible. Stan Van Gundy is great and Ryan Anderson and J.J. Redick are nice pieces, but since 2009, it's been one step forward, two steps back.

Nowell: Fact. From botching roster decisions to placing Dwight in a position to ruin his image, the Magic have let their star down. Strong organizations support their stars with a vision and a culture, but the Magic seemingly have a vacuum of leadership ready to indulge Dwight's every whim, which is not helping him in any way.

Wallace: Fact. They started a huge part of this ordeal with some highly questionable, if not flat-out dumb, personnel decisions. Acquiring Vince Carter, taking on Gilbert Arenas, regurgitating Hedo Turkoglu, extending Jason Richardson, adding Glen Davis. The mistakes just keep piling up. Dwight has enough reasons not to necessarily trust the direction.


5. Fact or Fiction: Dwight will regret the phrase "roll the dice."

Cavan: Fact. Where criticism of LeBron's South Beach sojourn pivoted on two very specific events -- The Decision and the Cirque du Soleil team intro days later -- Dwight Howard has nickel-and-dimed his way to collective loathing. The "roll the dice" comment was simply the latest straw for a public fed up with overprivileged, tone-deaf athletes charting their own scorched-earth course. He might regret it one day, but chances are it won't be before he and his shoes get their wish.

Kharpertian: Fact. This situation gets messier every day, and that's just the kind of sound bite that will haunt him in July.

Mason: Fact, fact, fact! This is one of those instances when Dwight will be killed for telling it like it is. He articulated the true power dynamic, and the truth hurts our delicate ears. LeBron James actually handled this part pretty well from a PR perspective: He just wouldn't talk about it.

Nowell: Fact. It seems that the only way for stars' images to remain intact through the free-agent process is to say hardly anything to anybody and pretend the whole thing isn't happening. Dwight's comment was tone-deaf and self-centered, to be sure, and he will likely carry the stigma of its immaturity, fair or not, for the rest of his career.

Wallace: Fact. That completely sounded like agent dialect there. It didn't even sound convincing coming out of Dwight's mouth. He'll want that one back.

ESPN.com and the TrueHoop Network
Michael Wallace and Beckley Mason write for ESPN.com. Jim Cavan, Devin Kharpertian and Danny Nowell contribute to the TrueHoop Network.

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