3. Howard will take on a greater workload with the Magic, as impossible as that might sound. The Magic aren’t expected to sign a star shooting guard to replace Jason Richardson, a free agent, leaving a more polished Howard with even more scoring chances. He’ll average a career-high 25 points per game (up from a career-best 22.9 last season), and a player’s scoring average always factors into an MVP race. I can see Howard complementing his offense by regaining the rebounding title and winning a fourth consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award. How could MVP voters not reward this double threat this time? They won’t.
So, it’s difficult to say how much remaining money the Magic would have to free-up from this point in order to sign Paul or Williams and re-sign Howard and then fortify the rest of the roster.
But there should be some intriguing opportunities available to the Magic — opportunities that would be unpleasant but might be necessary if the team wants to ramp-up its chances of signing Paul or Williams and keep Howard.
According to both HoopsWorld and ShamSports, the final year of guard J.J. Redick’s contract — about $6 million for the 2012-13 season — is completely unguaranteed. So, if necessary, the Magic could release Redick after the 2011-12 season and free-up another $6 million.
Also, I haven’t even mentioned two of the Magic’s top young assets.
Power forwards Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass are relative bargains and could help most teams.
There are a lot of proposals that could help the Magic get out of that hole — the so-called “Carmelo Rule” might give the Magic a big advantage to resign Dwight Howard and the amnesty provision could get the Magic out of Gilbert Arenas or Hedo Turkoglu’s bloated contracts.
But DeVos has been quiet. Maybe that is to be expected, he is not one of the vocal owners at the heart of negotiations. I do not believe he, or owner-in-waiting Bob Vander Weide, are on the negotiating committee (actually Vander Weide is on the labor relations committee). The Magic are at the table, but are not one of the principal speakers.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN 1080’s Magic Insider (http://espn1080.com) and is the co-host of the ESPN1080.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).