Submitted by Max Saindon for Hoops Talk Nation
The NBA Trade Deadline has passed, and while the Orlando Magic could not manage to pull in another quality player such as Monta Ellis or Josh Smith, their Thursday afternoon was very successful.
With just two hours before the 3:00 deadline on Thursday, Dwight Howard accompanied by Magic CEO Alex Martins and GM Otis Smith got in front of cameras set up inside the Amway Center and told the city of Orlando and the rest of the basketball world that he had waived his Early Termination Option. So instead of becoming a free agent this summer with the ability to join Deron Williams in Brooklyn, Superman will remain with the Magic through the 2012-13 NBA season. Orlando has another full year to bring in help before the madness starts up all over again around this time a year from now.
As for now, Howard and the Magic will have a distraction-free finish to the season, and another shot at reaching the NBA Finals again as they did in 2009.
Orlando’s first 44 games were clouded by trade rumors and speculation of Howard’s departure, yet they managed to accomplish a 28-16 record at the deadline, a record bested by only Chicago, Miami, Oklahoma City and San Antonio. After defeating the New Jersey Nets at home Friday night, the Magic have 16 games remaining to improve their already impressive third seed in the Eastern Conference. There are no more distractions now, and with Dwight Howard feeling free again, Ryan Anderson having a career-year and Jameer Nelson playing at All-Star form again, there is no telling how far this team can go in the postseason with their level of play right now.
The Magic defeated both the Bulls and the Heat last week and will have another chance to do the same again this week, except on a back-to-back which will make it even more difficult. The Sunday showdown in Miami and the Monday meeting with the Bulls should prove to be a good indication of where this Magic team is at as they head towards the regular season finish line and prepare for the 2012 NBA Playoffs.
The Magic haven’t made it to the Eastern Conference Finals since 2010, but it’s looking more and more likely that they can do it again this year.