There is one simple truth facing the Orlando Magic: They are in a lose-lose situation. If Dwight Howard forces a trade and packs his bags, it will wreck the franchise, plain and simple. The prospect of starting over with a name like Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries or even Andrew Bynum is little consolation to letting the biggest fish since Shaquille O'Neal squirm out of their hands.
Howard is clearly unhappy with the quality and level of play of those around him. And he should be. He's in the prime of his career, yet his team is on the outside looking in when it comes to the title chase.
To say that his teammates aren't playing up to his expectation is not necessarily a slight to them. Some of them are quite good. Ryan Anderson has been one of the league's feel-good surprise stories of the season. You could do a lot worse than Jameer Nelson running the point.
Of course, you could also do a lot better -- and keeping Howard will require as much.
Reality check: Howard is simply surrounded by the wrong teammates. There's something big missing -- a sidekick. That 1a guy who pushes him and identifies with him and ultimately has as much to lose as he does. There is no Derrick Rose or Dwyane Wade, an elite peer he can call a running mate to form a special bond with as they both try to climb that championship hill together.