Orlando Magic Rumors: Orlando among four favorites for Dwight Howard

Nov 4, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) sits on the bench during a game against the Orlando Magic at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 4, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) sits on the bench during a game against the Orlando Magic at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

Dwight Howard is entering free agency this summer after a tumultuous year with the Houston Rockets. It is believed the Orlando Magic are a favored spot.

The Houston Rockets’ season ended with an unceremonious clunk Wednesday night in Oakland. Well, it was ceremonious if you were the Golden State Warriors, who barraged the Rockets with 3-pointers without Stephen Curry in the lineup and put on a clinic against a Rockets team that looked disinterested and ready for the end of the season.

It certainly ended with a clunk. The final shot of the game was Dwight Howard hoisting a 3-pointer from the top of the key as the final buzzer sounded. Yes, Dwight Howard, the former superstar player and Defensive Player of the Year was the lone starter playing in the midst of a season-ending 30-point blowout.

And that is likely how Howard’s tenure with the Rockets will end.

Howard has an early termination clause in his contract which he is expected to exercise, allowing him to enter free agency and likely get one more big contract. He likely will not get a max player — back injuries have taken away from the player he once was and the disaster of this season may be at least partly at his feet.

There are questions about Howard up and down after his disastrous season. But someone is going to sign him. And increasingly, people believe Howard is going to be interested at least in a return to the Orlando Magic.

The latest comes from Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com, who wrote in his dissection of what went wrong with the Rockets’ season and the split in the relationship between Howard and James Harden, Orlando is one of four potential landing spots for the troubled superstar.

"Howard is not expected to have a role. It’s expected that he will become a free agent and seek a new team. Orlando, Milwaukee, Portland and Charlotte are the favorites."

There is no direct sourcing to say that these four are definitively where Howard may land. What does seem very certain is that Howard is not returning to Houston at all.

But the noise coming from somewhere keeps saying Howard has an interest in returning to Orlando. This was all spawned by a report from Bleacher/Report’s Ric Bucher saying Howard had sent “back channel” feelers to the Magic to judge their interest. It has sparked plenty of debate and pros and cons list for a Magic team suddenly with cap room.

What is not clear is how the Magic feel. They have been mum — as they should be as any direct comment would be tampering and there have been few leaks. The only clue to what the Magic feel is a report stating the Magic were not planning on pursuing Howard this summer.

Things can change though as free agency progresses. If the magic strike out on several of their other options, Howard may become more palatable and an option to explore.

That statement in itself shows how far Howard has fallen. He averaged 13.7 points per game, the lowest since his rookie year, and 11.8 rebounds per game this year. He posted a 3.1 defensive wins hares. His win share totals from the last two years are the two lowest of his career.

Even if those numbers are somewhat dubious in measuring defense, it is clear Howard is nowhere near the same player he was while he was playing in Orlando.

Still, someone will find a use for him and give him a chance. Not likely at the salary point Howard is thinking — and it is hard to gauge what anyone’s value in free agency is this summer with the cap set to explode up to $92 million.

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The noise and talk about Howard trying to find his way back in Orlando though continues to persist. And it probably will continue until the summer dust settles down.