There has been a lot of trade talk here, attempts to improve the Magic's immediate hopes by way of an acquisition. But I think the hard truth is that this simply will not happen. We do not have the trade assets necessary, period.
That said, should Otis Smith not focus his attention entirely on the summer of 2012?
Magic fans need to keep in mind that the first round match-up against Atlanta was arguably the least favorable for Orlando in the entire conference. Including Miami. But this doesn't mean the Magic are a bad team, or even out of the conversation to win the Eastern Conference again next season.
JJ Redick likely will not tear his abdomen again.
The point is, a shocking first round dismissal from the Playoffs does not make the Magic an immediate lottery team. There is still plenty of talent (even if most is isolated in Howard) and Stan Van Gundy is going to maximize it, as he has from day 1.
With all of this in mind, Otis Smith and the rest of the Magic front office need to acknowledge that they are more than one or two pieces away from winning an NBA Championship. And these pieces are not going to come by way of a trade.
The Magic, to me, seem to be in that dreaded position Dallas was in for the latter half of the last decade. Perpetual runners up.
Should Smith pull a Pat Riley and try to clear room enough to sign a franchise point guard in the offseason, at the expense of the Magic's immediate success?
If he can somehow move Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu for little or nothing in return, other than the 19 million dollars coming off the payroll, should he do it?
Of course, there's still Gilbert Arenas and his morbidly obese contract.
Let us bow our heads and pray for an Amnesty Clause.
Would Howard be willing to stay on the promise of a massive rebuilding next summer, in the face of a contained implosion in the meantime?
And as much as I hate to say it, a contained implosion now would likely give us a head start in the event that Howard departs.
If the Magic are not realistic Championship contenders now, and are unlikely to become contenders by making any available trades, I'm not sure I see a smarter alternative than trimming the fat now and praying Howard can be sold on a brighter future with a better Orlando Magic team.