The most intriguing credible Orlando Magic rumor at the moment only tangentially involves the Magic.
At least so far.
The Houston Rockets reportedly are attempting to move up in Thursday’s NBA draft, and they could target the top-10 picks currently owned by the Sacramento Kings (5th overall) and the Toronto Raptors (8th overall).
If the Rockets acquire those selections, the Rockets then could make a significant trade offer to the Magic for Dwight Howard. The Rockets attempted to acquire Howard around last season’s trade deadline and are still willing to trade for Howard even if Howard gives them no guarantee he’ll remain in Houston after his contract expires during the summer of 2013.
At least some Magic officials believe Howard has no intention of re-signing with the Magic, but new General Manager Rob Hennigan has said he intends to speak with Howard and offer a vision for the Magic’s future.
Hennigan said during his introductory press conference Thursday that he planned to reach out to Howard “in the very near and foreseeable future.”
If Howard tells the Magic he still won’t re-sign, then the team appears prepared to trade him eventually.
As SI.com’s Zach Lowe writes, there’s no guarantee that the Rockets can acquire the fifth and eighth picks. So keep that in mind.
But if the Rockets do acquire those selections, how would a deal with the Rockets benefit the Magic?
The first benefit would be that it would give the Magic an infusion of young talent.
The Thunder built their franchise through the draft.
The choice of Durant was a no-brainer, but the Thunder deserve credit for making the other choices.
Hennigan supervised the Thunder’s college, international and pro scouting departments for the last two seasons, so he should know this year’s draft prospects well. The question is, does he view any of the prospects who could be available at No. 5 and No. 8 as true difference-makers?
The second benefit to the Magic of a Rockets deal would be that the Rockets have the cap flexibility to take on one of the Magic’s undesirable contracts, perhaps Hedo Turkoglu’s deal.
For years now, the Magic have attempted to win right away, eschewing the draft for high-priced free-agent signings and for blockbuster trades for veterans.
That model was attractive because Howard is a franchise cornerstone player.
But if Howard makes it clear to Hennigan there’s no way he’ll remain, the Magic could begin a long rebuilding process.
A deal that would give them two lottery picks in Thursday’s draft and allow them to shed Turkoglu’s contract would jump-start that effort.
Of course, Hennigan could choose to wait until after the draft to make a deal involving Howard.
“We’re going to spend a lot of time talking about everything,” Hennigan said last Thursday.
“We’re going to continue to talk about everything and analyze everyone and anything.”Follow Josh Robbins on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins and e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Subscribe to our Orlando Magic newsletter at OrlandoSentinel.com/joinus.