Rather than beginning their rebuilding efforts by trading Dwight Howard prior to the March 15 deadline, the Orlando Magic could instead look to bolster their roster by making a trade for a high-impact player, reports Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, hoping to get back into championship contention and to convince their superstar center not to leave town when he becomes a free agent this summer.
Berger says Orlando's 10-4 start, coupled with iffy showings by the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, has emboldened the Magic's efforts to make one last push to avoid losing their once-in-a-generation talent. To that end, Berger says, citing sources, the team "has not ruled out making a play for Steve Nash."
Though 37 years old and with a balky back, Nash nonetheless leads the NBA with 10.1 assists per game while scoring 15.1 points of his own, shooting 55.2 percent from the field. The surefire Hall-of-Fame point guard hasn't asked the Phoenix Suns for a trade--"I don't feel like it's choosing a restaurant," Nash told ESPN.com in early January about the possibility of requesting a trade--but Phoenix could attempt to trade its franchise player if its struggles continue.
Though keeping Howard beyond the trade deadline would be risky for Orlando, Berger says it's mindful of the possibility the Los Angeles Clippers' offering Blake Griffin, the reigning Rookie of the Year, in a sign-and-trade deal for Howard once free agency begins.
A report Monday indicated Howard would sign a long-term deal with the Clippers. Otis Smith, Orlando's President of Basketball Operations, said neither Howard nor Dan Fegan, Howard's agent, added the Clippers to Howard's "wish list" of teams to which he'd like to be traded, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reported. Orlando has granted Fegan permission to discuss trades with the Los Angeles Lakers, New Jersey Nets, and Dallas Mavericks. Howard, too, denied interest in the Clippers.
Berger says the report, initially made by Chris Sheridan, is accurate: though Howard wouldn't seek a Clippers trade during the season, he might during the free-agent period, which is when a sign-and-trade deal for Griffin could become possible.