FanPost

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Orlando Magic

Personally, I have long been of the opinion that the Magic would not trade Dwight Howard at the trade deadline, and I think irrespective of recent media stories that Dwight is determined to get to the Nets come the summer; I still think the Magic won't trade Dwight.

The first thing people need to realize is that by nature of their jobs, the basketball side (coaching staff, front office) and the corporate side (team president, sales, marketing, etc) will oftentimes be at odds over what they think is best for the team and which direction they would like to go. For the basketball side - they are judged solely by their win-loss record (and maybe to a smaller extent how they develop the young players on the roster) while the corporate side are judged like anyone in business - how much money can you make, how well did you market the product, how much interest have you created, etc. So by nature of the differing job responsibilities, they will oftentimes be at odds with each other.

So while the basketball side (Van Gundy, Otis Smith) may tell anyone who will listen that they want to trade Dwight Howard immediately for whatever package they can get - this has to do with minimizing distractions within the team and being left with a foundation for next season. Yet the corporate side of the business by nature will be less concerned with next season - as their time is now. And selling/marketing a team that is in third place in the East (and last night's OT win over the Heat make this an even bigger gap) with the best big man in the NBA and a chance to make a deep playoffs or even Finals run trumps their concern about the future. Winning a championship sells tickets and sponsorships in advance of free agency. And remember, 95% of professional sports teams are not owned by former players or coaches, but by businessmen. This fact alone is why Dwight Howard is still a member of the Magic and not the Nets.

I understand and can emphasize with the basketball side. I really can. This entire situation not only creates a distraction that has constantly surrounded the team (and if he is not traded - will continue to surround the trade until July 1) but makes a mockery of their sport. And quite honestly, if you are evaluated based upon your win-loss record and you believe that Dwight is going to bolt in Free Agency - do you prefer to start all over with that roster and a late first round pick and some money in free agency (which clearly Otis Smith has not spent very well in years past) or do you prefer to restart with Brook Lopez, draft picks and maybe even Marshon Brooks? It's a no brainer.

But if you are Alex Martins (and DeVos) you look at what cards you have on the table at the moment; the top Center in the NBA, the #3 record in the East in what has been a crazy, unpredictable season, and you just came off a big win against the Heat. The playoffs are a lock (ie...playoff revenues, merchandise, concessions, etc) and the Cardinals are a very recent example of the potential benefit of NOT trading a pending superstar Free Agent and making a run to win the championship. Any Finals run (unless the team is located in NJ) generates much greater fan interest which leads to increased merchandise and sponsorship sales along with increase in season ticket sales. Fans want to be involved with a winning franchise. And on the flip side, ticket sales will actually increase following the trade deadline if Dwight is still on the Magic - as fans will want to get their last looks at him in Orlando. And, who knows - winning championship could lead to a change of heart for Dwight.

So while I understand that the Magic are truly between a rock and a hard place and that there are differing feelings/emotions/thought processes between the basketball side and the business side - I think ultimately the business side wins out and they roll the dice and make an effort to win a Championship and worry about the future this summer.

And as a Nets fan - that is EXACTLY what I want to see. The Nets doing nothing with Orlando between now and tomorrow afternoon and instead focusing on trading for a large expiring (a la Boris Diaw) and freeing up the contracts of Jordan Farmar and Johan Petro next season. In a perfect world - but nobody is this lucky - we would be able to move Shawne Williams as well. And while losing that Houston pick is not ideal in this draft - the draft is still a crapshoot (I know everyone is super confident following Marshon Brooks but the draft by nature is a crapshoot) and removing that cap hold could be the difference between Dwight and Brook and Dwight and filler.

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