If there is one group of people who should be happy about the lockout, it’s Orlando Magic fans. That sounds stupid because it’s not like they can watch their team, but the result of this lockout is going to be that it is harder for marquee players to change franchises. Considering that in less than a year the Magic will see Dwight Howard become a free agent, they’re going to want every advantage they can get to keep him around.

Especially after seeing what Dwight told Esquire magazine.

SR: Do you think that the drive to represent, on an iconic level, will be a factor in your free agency? Do you see yourself in a much larger market?

DH: There’s more you can do in a bigger place. I’m stuck in a tough position because I feel like right now, where I’m at, I’ve done so much. And I just don’t know what else I can do. I can’t live for everybody else. I don’t know what decision I’m gonna make as of right now. It’s been crazy. Everybody wants me to come here, come play here, come to our team, do this. It’s a great feeling, though, to be wanted.

SR: You’re gone. I can feel it.

DH: The toughest part for me is the city — the people. They’ve got burgers named after me in Orlando, they’ve got a Web site saying, “Please stay.” I love the people in the city. I’ve literally sat on the bench with a towel on my head crying, because I feel the passion in the stands. I just think about what’s going to be best for what I want to accomplish in my life. And I don’t want that door to close on me, wherever that door is. I don’t want it to close.

So he’s leaving. Buh-bye. I mean, maybe the new collective bargaining agreement will be so strict that it doesn’t make sense for big-time players to leave the teams where they became stars — that’s what David Stern seems to want — but there’s a pretty good chance we’re nearing the end of the Dwight Howard era in Orlando. “I’ve done so much [...] I just don’t know what else I can do” does not sound very good.

That being said, Dwight seems like the kind of guy who could actually be swayed to stay somewhere because of web sites and burgers. So maybe double the website and burger production in the Greater Orlando Area. Anything to get him to stay because a completely dominating big guy is not something that is easily replaced. Orlando know that pretty well because they had to replace Shaquille O’Neal with Rony Seikaly, which is only good if you’re looking to vibe out in da club.

There’s a chance Dwight stays in Orlando — mostly because of the CBA stuff — but at this point it just seems like he’s laying the groundwork for his exit. Mention doing all you can do, talk about how a bigger market is better for your career and make sure to give the fans some love, so they don’t hate you when you leave. Not sure that’ll work, but that’s the gameplan for these situations. Let’s just hope New Orleans is paying attention so they’re not shocked when Chris Paul says the same stuff.

(via SB Nation)