Orlando's roster could have an entirely new look a month from now, and Magic players are all aware of that fact. Nonetheless, as they tell Joshua Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, their goal for the second half will be to avoid being weighed down by off-court distractions and focus on playing good basketball. Here's the latest on Dwight Howard, who figures to dominate Orlando's on- and off-court headlines in the coming weeks:
- Add the Hawks to the list of potential Howard suitors. Marcus Thompson, while looking for Warriors rumors for the Bay Area News Group, tweets that Atlanta is offering Joe Johnson and Al Horford to the Magic for D12. Howard grew up in Atlanta and went to high school at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy. Thompson notes that Howard and Hawks forward Josh Smith are friends.
- Howard wants the Magic to pursue Steve Nash, and would consider staying at least another year in Orlando if the team can acquire Nash and re-sign him, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld. Of course, given the Suns' current stance on their point guard, such an acquisition would be a challenge.
- An Eastern Conference executive tells Chris Broussard of ESPN.com that he thinks if Howard is dealt by March 15th, it will be to the Nets, but the longer the saga drags on, the better the Mavericks' odds become. While the Knicks and Clippers aren't on Howard's list of preferred destinations, Broussard says D12 would consider both teams, though neither has engaged the Magic in trade talks.
- The Warriors say they're not interested in trading Monta Ellis unless he's part of a package for Howard, sources tells Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News (Twitter link).
- We covered some Howard-related links in our notes on the Warriors earlier this morning, as Golden State remains in the hunt for the Magic superstar. SI.com's Zach Lowe confirms the Warriors would be willing to acquire Howard without assurances he'd sign long-term or even opt into the final year of his contract next season. This seems a little crazy to me, but as Lowe points out, Golden State will likely have to break up its core at some point to become a legit title contender anyway. I suppose if the Warriors were able to deal David Lee along with Ellis and others, even just renting Dwight would create a ton of cap flexibility for future seasons. Still, I don't think it's a likely scenario.