ORLANDO, Fla. --- With the Bulls in town, it was only natural that soon-to-be free-agent Dwight Howard was asked about the possibility of landing in Chicago. While the All-Star center has made it known that he only wants to be traded to the New Jersey Nets, Dallas Mavericks or Los Angeles Lakers, Magic general manager Otis Smith is talking to teams not on Howard's wish list with hopes that another team is willing to make a trade for Howard while gambling that they can sign him long term. The Bulls are monitoring the situation.
If the Magic don't trade Howard, he could leave as a free agent after the season. The NBA trade deadline is March 15.
"We're not talking trades," Howard said Thursday when asked about his interest in the Bulls.
Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer will have their hands full with Howard, who is averaging 19 points and 16 rebounds, but are coming off perhaps their best game together. They combined for 32 points and 18 rebounds in Wednesday's win in Detroit.
"They played really hard," Thibodeau said. "I thought Jo was great in the fourth quarter making great decisions. He got the ball in the middle of the floor and he found Carlos open. He made the right play. That's one of his strengths. When he keeps it simple like that he's really tough. He's got a great skill set. He's a little different for a big."
Van Gundy said the key for the Magic is to keep Noah and backup center Omer Asik on the move.
"They can be very aggressive defensively with their bigs and because they have so many foul trouble isn't really an issue," he said. "They're 10 deep with good players. That's one of the reasons they had the best record in the league a year ago. They'll certainly be among those teams right up there this year. They have great players, great size and great depth."