NBA Free Agency Rumors: Dwight Howard considering Orlando Magic return


Dwight Howard is planning his free agency this summer and has reportedly tried sending out feelers to see if the Orlando Magic would be interested.

The Orlando Magic are going to be players in free agency this summer. They made sure of that in trading Tobias Harris to clear some cap room and get into the conversation for definitely one max salary slot and perhaps two if they let their free agents walk this summer.

Orlando is preparing a massive restructuring of its team.

Who the Magic will go after though is still very much up in the air. Orlando does not necessarily have a team tailor made for a big-name free agent to jump on and turn it into a winner. The Magic will likely have to take a risk on an up-and-coming player or try to cash in on a star getting one last big pay day.

There is no doubt the Magic’s future is a bit murky. And rumors will run wild. And every option needs to be open.

That includes perhaps the most unlikely free agent target.

Ric Bucher of Bleacher/Report reports Dwight Howard has sent feelers out through “back channels” to see if the Orlando Magic are interested in signing him this offseason in free agency. That would pave the way for Howard to reunite with the team that drafted him and helped him ascend to stardom with a 2009 Finals appearance.

There is no indication of whether the Magic would go after him in free agency this summer.

Howard is certainly not the same player he was when he was in Orlando. He is averaging 14.3 points per game and 12.0 rebounds per game. He has a 1.6 defensive box plus-minus, meaning the Rockets play 1.6 points per 100 possessions better than the average team while Howard is on the floor.

His points per game and defensive box plus-minus are the lowest they have been for him since his first two years in the league.

Injuries have slowed him — his back injury suffered in Orlando and a troublesome knee — but he can still be an impactful player when healthy and engaged.

The question is whether that is worth the max contract he will likely seek.

And also whether Magic fans would accept him back.

Slowly before this news came out, fans have been asking me about the possibility of Howard rejoining the Magic or the Magic pursuing Howard. It was slowly at first.

The answer had to remain largely political. Is it possible? Sure. Is it likely? No. There were a lot of relationships damaged and bridges burned when he left.

And, unlike LeBron James, there is not that pull of home or some magical force bringing him back every offseason. Dwight Howard has largely left Orlando and Central Florida in the four years since he departed the team.

There has not been an influx of young talent that could pique a superstar’s interest — Victor Oladipo is not Kyrie Irving and Dwight Howard is not LeBron James. Howard alone is probably not going to move the needle.

Then again, he might just by his mere presence and his defensive capabilities.

Like James and his return to Cleveland there are fans that have to get over what happened a few years ago. The plain reality, as Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel put it a few weeks ago, is there may not be many other options for a Magic team that failed to take a big step forward and is not an obvious landing spot for big-name free agents:

"Everyone has doubts whether the Magic can attract a star free agent or two — even with $45 million available. The competition will be fierce, plus they aren’t endearing themselves to elite players with this second-half collapse.Paul Millsap turned them down last summer, deciding to stay with a winner in Atlanta. Ideally, Howard isn’t their preferred choice, but what if they can’t sign Al Horford, Mike Conley or Harrison Barnes this time around?Howard will have other options this offseason, although he’d play second banana on any star-loaded contender. Not in Orlando."

At this stage, it is all rumor. There is no fact to back it up and no sense of what the Magic or what Howard will do.

With the Magic entering a free agency where so many teams will have cap room and the team in such a state of flux, every option needs to be considered.

Even the once unthinkable of bringing back Dwight Howard. It may clearly turn out that he becomes the best option.

But that is still a long way down the road from now.

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For now, if anything goes on, it goes on behind he scenes.