Dwight Howard wasn’t supposed to be still playing for the Orlando Magic according to all the signals during the short off season, the lack of effort during the pre-season games and just by him saying he wants to be traded, with more than a team or two mentioned as potential destinations. Now, with the Magic 12-5, the match looks stronger than ever.

How has Howard been doing so far this season? More importantly, how have the Orlando Magic been doing? From a team that only seemed to be going backwards since their finals appearance in 2009, all coming down to the point of Howard potentially leaving and setting in motion years of rebuiliding, the Magic look as good as anyone in the East.

Don't say goodbye so soon

Image: Source

Howard himself is averaging 19.7 points, 15.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. Adding Ryan Anderson’s surprising start, shooting 42.2% from the outside with nearly 17 points per game and a defense that keeps teams at just under 91 points per game, the Magic suddenly look like contenders. The Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls are better teams, and the Magic did look embarrassing against the Boston Celtics this week. Still, Howard isn’t talking about being traded anymore, and his attitude during the games has certainly improved.

No more talk about the Nets, who are 5-13 and will probably be losing Deron Williams at the end of the season or even this year. If someone looks unhappy with the situation he’s in, it’s him. The Lakers? Always a lucrative prospect, but don’t look willing to give up on Bynum, or Gasol, or anything right now for that matter. They need a point guard more than a big man anyway.

If we have to play a guessing/gambling game, Howard not being an Orlando Magic player after the summer of 2012 is still a safe bet, but not the same it was less than a month ago. Maybe it’s the thought of money, which the Magic can offer the most to him due to the new rules of the CBA. He’s making around $18 million right now, and he could lose around 30% of his future earnings with the Magic if he opts for another team.

But lets give Howard more credit than that. He wants to be on a team with a chance to win titles, a team that can make a postseason run every season. The Magic want to build around Howard, and have done a good job most of the time. The current roster isn’t good enough, on paper, to win the East, but in a shortened season, who knows. Keeping Dwight Howard and making the smart moves after keeping their franchise player might keep this small-market team in the midst of contenders for the East.