At first glance, the decision by the Orlando Magic to fire Head Coach Stan Van Gundy and part ways with General Manager Otis Smith would seem like an obvious attempt to pacify disgruntled superstar Dwight Howard, who had differences with both men during this past season. Howard reluctantly agreed to relinquish his opt-out clause for the 2012-13 season before the trade deadline in March, and with Van Gundy and Smith out of the picture, you would think the Magic have a decent shot at getting him to sign a long-term extension.
Well, guess again. Sources close to Howard told Sheridan Hoops that the three-time Defensive Player of the Year is more determined than ever to bolt the Magic Kingdom, and he has the two New York teams, the two Los Angeles teams and Dallas on his list of preferred destinations.
My question is, should the Bulls make a bid to bring Howard to Chicago?
Granted, with Derrick Rose facing a long rehab after surgery to repair a torn left ACL and Luol Deng possibly missing the first two months of next season if he decides to have wrist surgery, the Bulls arent exactly in a position of strength to make a deal.
But the way I look at it, the Rose injury might make this the best time for Bulls management to roll the dice. If you could get Orlando to agree to a package of Joakim Noah, Deng, Ronnie Brewer and the future Charlotte first-round draft pick for Howard and Hedo Turkoglu (who will have to be included in any deal involving Howard because of his big money contract), you would have that second superstar to reduce the burden on Rose to carry the Bulls offense.
We know Howard hasnt been all that excited about the possibility of coming to cold-weather Chicago, but if he had a full season to experience all the city has to offer and the tremendous loyalty of Bulls fans, maybe he would warm up to the idea of making the Windy City his long-term NBA home. And, if Howard decides to bolt after one season, the Bulls could use the salary cap room they would create to bid on a star-studded free agent class in 2014.
I know its a lot to ask for Bulls fans to be patient after believing the team was on the cusp of a championship during the last two seasons. But the reality is, even with the supremely talented Rose, this is an offensively challenged team that might not have been able to beat Miami or the Western Conference champion in a seven game series. Taking the gamble on making a trade for Howard would be the Bulls best opportunity to acquire another game-changing player. And if Howard leaves, the Bulls would have sufficient cap room in 2014 to possibly make another run at LeBron James, who can opt out of his contract with the Heat that summer.
If the Bulls stand pat with the current roster, all theyll be able to do this season is add a stop-gap point guard fill in at the mini-mid level contract of about 2.5 million dollars. Were talking about veterans on the down side of their careers like: Kirk Hinrich, Andre Miller, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry, or maybe young players who havent yet reached their potential like Raymond Felton, Jerryd Bayliss and Jonny Flynn.
The Bulls will probably use their late first-round draft pick (No. 29 overall) on either a college shooter like Vanderbilts John Jenkins or Ohio States William Buford or possibly another big man like Syracuse 7 footer Fab Melo.
Maybe next season isnt about contending for a title, given the injury rehab periods for Rose and possibly Deng. If the next legitimate title shot isnt until the 2013-14 season, the front office should seriously consider making a bold roster move that will set the team up for years of contention after Dengs contract expires in two years and the Bulls can bring European sensation Nikola Mirotic to the NBA.