From one former Orlando Magic big man to another, Shaquille O’Neal thinks Dwight Howard would be smart to return to the team that drafted him.
Howard has been rumored to be interested in a return to Orlando. His current tenure with the Houston Rockets has been rocky, to say the least, and he’s not currently in a position to make the most of his waning talents.
Shaq, who has in the past been solidly against Howard in the media, has recently changed his tune. He also thinks the Magic have the pieces in place to make Orlando the perfect destination for Howard to finish his career strong.
“I think it would be good for the city,” O’Neal said Monday of Howard returning to Orlando, via Calvin Watkins of ESPN. “First of all, after the first time he left, letting a big young guy get away, it shouldn’t happen a second time. All the puzzle [pieces] have to fit.”
As many surely remember, Howard didn’t want to leave Orlando in the first place. He actually opted into the final year of his contract with the franchise before being traded away, which left a bitter taste in his mouth.
That said, O’Neal thinks the past differences could be swept away for a new era of competitive basketball in Orlando.
“The DeVos family [which owns the Magic] I have respect for. It can definitely work, as a general manager and owner we’re not just going to be bringing people back, we’re trying to get to that next level. If that guy can’t get us to the next level, then it don’t make sense.”
Clearly, Howard still has plenty left in him at this time to help a young team succeed. Playing with James Harden in Houston, though, hasn’t been good for his game. Averaging just 13.8 points per game, he’s an afterthought in Houston’s offense these days.
But given the right situation, playing on a team that actually features a post game, Howard could still be a guy who scores 15-18 points per game. Combined with his defensive and rebounding presence, that’s a potent combination. At the age of 30, he still has some good years ahead of him.
Playing with a young, up and coming Magic squad could perhaps even add a couple more years to his reserve.