Former head coach and current NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy believes Dwight Howard should leave the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency and return to the Orlando Magic. Howard, a free agent, has (shockingly) yet to determine what his plans will be. Van Gundy, speaking on the “Open Mike radio show” in Orlando, thinks that the only way Howard can get his image and career back on track is to make a return to the team where he spent the beginning of his career.
It’s something that is certainly interesting to think about, but would the Magic be crazy to even consider this? The front office in Orlando has taken a completely new shape since the end of the 2011-12 season and there are hardly any of the same faces that worked with Howard during his time in Orlando. Rob Hennigan and his staff has completely shifted focus from an organization contending for titles, to one left in ruins with the messy divorce between the big man and team.
I have a hard time believing that the people of Orlando would welcome Howard back with open arms, and rightly so, but maybe if Dwight were to have a big press conference opening himself up, the perception could change. However, rekindling old relationships hardly works in life so how could it work in sports, right?
From the Magic’s point of view, even if Howard were to insist on a return to Orlando, it could prove disastrous. The Magic have built a solid group of young players with plenty of potential while possessing the number two overall pick, and the arrival of a player of Howard’s stature would certainly stunt their development. Howard’s presence on the court can make any team go from mediocre to a team to be reckoned with, as Orlando has seen before. The heightened expectations on the team are exactly what the Magic have been avoiding by clearing house and starting anew with a completely blank slate. Given the behavior we’ve seen from Howard over the last two years, I don’t think there will be any fuel to this fire once free agency begins.