If the Orlando Magic elect to fulfill Dwight Howard's trade request prior to Thursday's NBA trade deadline, they wish to receive a package built around young players and draft picks in return, reports Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, citing conversations with executives who've talked to the Magic in recent days. Orlando wants a return package similar to the one the Denver Nuggets received for All-Star small forward Carmelo Anthony in 2011, says Berger, as "Orlando executives view the Denver model as a middle ground between" the extremes of starting a rebuild from scratch with draft picks and reloading with "veteran All-Stars."
In return for Anthony and point guard Chauncey Billups, the Nuggets received combo forwards Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari; point guard Raymond Felton; centers Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov; a future first-round draft pick; and two future second-round draft picks. Gallinari, 22, averaged 14.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for Denver upon his arrival, while the 23-year-old Chandler posted 12.5 and five. In his first full season as a Nugget, Gallinari has led the team with 16.1 points per game. Chandler signed with a Chinese team during the NBA lockout and has yet to play in the NBA this season, though Denver controls his rights as a restricted free agent.
After trading Anthony to the New York Knicks, the Nuggets closed the season by winning 18 of their final 25 games, earning the fifth seed in the Western Conference. They lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder, 4-1, in the first round of the playoffs. Entering Thursday's action, the 22-18 Nuggets had the seventh-best record in the West.
As Berger explains, getting so great a haul for Howard will be difficult for Orlando, as it doesn't have a player of Billups' caliber to add to the deal. Instead, they'll likely try to unload the contract of Hedo Turkoglu in any Howard trade. In addition, "the Nuggets were able to parlay interest from the Knicks, Nets and other teams Anthony had no intention of extending his contract with into a bidding war that drove the price for him through the roof." Orlando has yet to succeed in starting such a bidding war to drive up Howard's value.
During training camp, Howard issued a trade request to the Magic via Dan Fegan, his agent, mentioning specifically the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, and New Jersey Nets as teams with which he'd sign a contract extension. Berger, ciring "two people familiar with the Orlando strategy," says none of those three teams has assets that interest Orlando. Even New Jersey's reported offer of a package built around 23-year-old center Brook Lopez and swingman MarShon Brooks--who ranks second among rookies in scoring, at 13.6 points per game--doesn't appeal to the Magic.