The trade deadline is March 15th, 2012. That’s just three days away! Just like we saw last season with Carmelo Anthony, everything is being held up with Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic. Lots of names have been getting tossed around as trade-bait this season, but will anything big happen this week?

Ever since Chris Paul was traded from the New Orleans Hornets to the Los Angeles Clippers, things have been pretty quiet on the NBA trade front. Rumors have continued to fly, but there hasn’t been a lot of action among NBA general managers during the season.

The Los Angeles Lakers tried to make their play for Paul, but the trade nixed by the NBA over the summer has left the door open for the Buss family to acquire Howard. Would it have been possible for the Lakers to get Paul and Howard? The Lakers failed trade for Paul meant that Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom would be staying put, but that they were expendable pieces to the Lakers future. Odom was so hurt by the nixed trade to the Hornets that the team was forced to deal the unhappy player to the Dallas Mavericks for next to nothing.

Odom hasn't been the same since the nixed trade and actual trade. He's averaging career lows in minutes played, points scored, and rebounds. The career 14.3 ppg and 8.7 rpg averages in 34 minutes have plummeted to 7.5 ppg and 4.5 rpg in just 21 minutes per game for Dallas this season. Odom also missed four games from Feb. 22 to March 2nd due to a family matter and was supposed to play in a D-League game before re-joining the Mavs, but he passed on that odd move and just re-joined the team, like any other legitimate player would.

The Paul and Odom deals have been the big moves made in the NBA this season and both happened before any games were played. A couple free agent signings in Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith were semi-exciting, but not big stories as both guys are reserves and not big times names. Martin is only averaging 5.9 points and 4.3 rebounds for the Clippers in 22.8 minutes per game (career low in minutes). And Smith is averaging just 9.2 points and 2.6 rebounds per game in 22.4 minutes per game (his least mpg since the 2007-08 season) for the Knicks in and his team is just 3-7 since he came aboard. Again, not a lot of exciting NBA transactions during this shortened season.

What moves could we see this week?

It really all depends on Howard. If teams are unable to land Howard in a trade this week, if he stays with the Magic, then I don't see a lot of moves taking place. If Howard stays in Orlando (huge mistake by Otis Smith, the Magic general manager) then teams will probably not make big moves, so they have a shot to woo and sign Howard in the off-season.

If Howard stays in Orlando, this means the New Jersey Nets, Lakers, Mavericks, and others will probably not look to add payroll so they can have a shot to land the talented center this summer without having to give up anything to get him.

Now, if the Magic go ahead and deal Howard, the trade floodgates could really open up. We could see secondary deals involving Rajon Rondo, Pau Gasol, Luis Scola, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and others come to fruition.

For now, everything hinges on Orlando and the Magic have been dragging their feet on dealing Howard for … well, years. The big man has stated, since last season, that he would prefer a trade or at least that he would seriously consider his options when his contract was up. A deal to the Nets would likely mean a big rebuilding project for the Magic, but a deal with the Lakers that could net the Magic Andrew Bynum and maybe Pau Gasol or perhaps another player in a three-team deal could get the Magic some nice building blocks that would keep them very competitive in the East.

It's a tough decision on Otis Smith's plate and I don't get the feeling that the Magic will trade Howard at the deadline on Thursday, but the team could also be holding out until teams get very desperate.

Perhaps Otis Smith is trying to pull his best Masai Ujiri …

Read a slew of NBA rumors right here.

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