Dwight Howard: Is the Magic’s First Round Loss a Good Sign for the Lakers?

There is a chance that the Dwight Howard era may have come to an end with the Orlando Magic's first-round loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the 2011 NBA Playoffs, but that probably depends on where you get your information.

Howard will be a free agent in 2012 and the Magic recently announced that general manager Otis Smith and head coach Stan Van Gundy would both be returning for the 2011-12 season.

Smith and Van Gundy's return could be a message to Howard that management and coaching will be familiar and stable once it's time for him to make his decision, but convincing Howard that the roster around him will improve is a different matter.

This season the Magic were really only title contenders by perception, and the Hawks shattered that myth in a humbling six-game series win.

The Magic's roster in its current state will never again contend for the East crown, much less the NBA title, but the real question is can Smith and/or Van Gundy convince any top tier talent to join Howard in Orlando before he decides to leave?

There are several factors working against the Magic such as a dearth of horrible contracts, and a roster full of players that have decent ability, but little trade value.

Smith was able to get rid of Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis and their horrible contracts, but he accepted an equally terrible contract with Gilbert Arenas, and Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson didn't have the type of impact that was expected.

The Magic will likely try to sign one of the top free-agent point guards available to pair with Howard, and that means chasing either New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul or New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams.

If Paul and Williams make it obvious that they will choose to pursue their NBA careers elsewhere, then the Hornets and Nets will probably seek to deal them rather than risk losing them in free agency for nothing.

In that instanc...

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