Dwight Howard, your mission (should you choose to accept it): give Orlando Magic fans a modicum of hope that you'll sign a contract extension that will soon be on the table waiting for your Hancock ... and rip Shaq in the process. Go!
"I'm not trying to run behind nobody like Shaq or be behind somebody else," Howard said, referencing Shaquille O'Neal's decision to leave the Magic following the 1995-96 season and sign with the Los Angeles Lakers.
"I want to start my own path and I want people to follow my path and not just follow somebody else's path. I want to have my own path, and I want to start that here in Orlando."
Those comments were published in Tuesday's Orlando Sentinel; basically, Dwight is saying he wants to be the new Dwyane Wade, and instead of fleeing to chase title hopes (that'd be Shaq, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, and countless others), he wants to draw the Chris Pauls to O-Town.
There's one small problem, though. Orlando is not Miami. They are in the same state and have the same weather. But Orlando is not Miami. Nor is the Magic's cap and asset situation anywhere close to what Heat had going into 2010. Miami cleared the decks to free up enough space for three maximum-value contracts. The Magic can't exactly do that, thanks to Gilbert Arenas, who owes thanks to Rashard Lewis. Yep, that old Rashard Lewis contract -- ridiculous before the ink dried -- will keep the Magic from building a Heat in central Florida.
But Howard's one hell of a centerpiece, and depending on how the next collective bargaining agreement shakes out, he may not need a LeBron James and a Chris Bosh. Maybe just one. Maybe just a Chris Paul will get the job done. We'll see.