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Magic can’t let Orlando All-Star show stop a Howard trade

By Brian Schmitz, The Orlando Sentinel –

The World’s Greatest Pickup Game — a/k/a the NBA All-Star Game in Orlando — could get a little serious come Feb. 26. And, folks, these things are never serious.

But let me ask you this: Could a matchup pitting Dwight Howard against Andrew Bynum be just for fun?

Because it looks as if Howard of the Magic and Bynum of the Lakers will be the starting centers for their respective conferences … and because the trading deadline is 18 days after the exhibition . . . and because there’s talk of Howard being traded for Bynum …

Wouldn’t it stand to reason that Dwight vs. ‘Drew — after two days of media saturation — might not be all uncontested alley-oops, layups and hugs? Oh, my kingdom for some real all-star drama.

Or here’s an idea: Why not just save everyone in Orlando and L.A. the trouble and the moving expenses and trade Dwight and ‘Drew minutes before tipoff?

Put Howard in the West jersey and Bynum in the East uni (and keep an extra East jersey on hand if Pau Gasol also has to trade one coast for another).

No muss, no fuss, Jim Buss.

Cover it on TV like a reality show, with Justin Bieber presenting the uniforms to Howard and Bynum.

(Besides, the game would give Howard a taste of what it’s like playing with Kobe Bryant. Kobe doesn’t pass during the regular season; you think he’s giving it to Dwight (or Bynum) in the All-Star Game? He took 23 shots in last year’s game so he could win MVP.)

Howard says he doesn’t think he’ll be traded until after the game leaves town. True, but if GM Otis Smith gets an offer he can’t refuse before the event arrives, he should act on it.

Why not?

Who cares if All-Star Weekend is in Orlando’s backyard?

What, the Magic are going to worry about perception at this point?

Though it would be uncomfortable for Magic fans to see Howard in another all-star uniform, the club has to look out for its future, just as Dwight is looking out for his.

There won’t be that many Magic fans attending the game, anyway, not with those ridiculous prices and the amount of tickets available.

I mean, Howard already has delivered the Magic and their fans the bad news.

Does it really matter when he leaves if the team finds a satisfying deal for him?

As I’ve written several times, Bynum would be the best return any team would have received in exchange for a player who has forced his way out. Better than what Denver got for ‘Melo and New Orleans got for Chris Paul, even with the commissioner’s help.

The sight of Howard representing a visiting team in the city where he lives during a weekend in which the NBA celebrates its game is, ahem … a black eye for the league.

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