With Turkoglu facing free agency and Nelson returning from injury, Smith chose not to re-sign Turkoglu and traded away Alston, Lee and Tony Battie to the New Jersey Nets for Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson.
Howard was stung by the trade of his good friend, Lee, and his mentor, Battie.
But Carter was supposed to be the go-to scorer the Magic lacked, and he fizzled in the 2010 Eastern Conference finals.
On Dec. 18, 2010, Smith traded Carter away in one of two blockbuster trades.
Those trades came to define Smith’s tenure.
The team acquired Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Clark from the Phoenix Suns for Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus, a 2011 first-round pick and cash.
The Magic also obtained Gilbert Arenas, Smith’s close friend, for Rashard Lewis.
Although the Magic went on a winning streak shortly thereafter, both deals arguably failed for the long term.
Richardson has been a good locker-room presence and has hit several key late-game shots, but he has not been a reliable go-to scorer. Worse, Turkoglu has been up-and-down in his return, and his expensive contract is fully guaranteed for 2012-13 and partially guaranteed for 2013-14, while Carter’s was only partially guaranteed for 2011-12.
And Gortat, an agile center adept at running the pick-and-roll, was a valued asset in a league devoid of quality centers. He might have garnered a greater return in another trade.
Although the Lewis-for-Arenas deal opened playing opportunities for Anderson and Brandon Bass, the deal has, on balance, turned out badly for the Magic.
Arenas was hobbled by a leg issue that should have caused the Magic concern from the outset, and he never adjusted to a backup role.
The Magic waived him via the amnesty clause last December, but the team wound up owing him $62 million over three seasons.
In the meantime, the Magic have almost no salary-cap flexibility in the short term.
During the summer of 2010, Smith signed Quentin Richardson and Chris Duhon to long-term deals, and neither player has met expectations. Last summer, Smith signed Glen Davis to a four-year deal and re-signed Jason Richardson to a four-year deal.
Smith’s eventual successor will be hamstrung by those contracts.
But although Smith’s tenure perhaps lacked long-term planning, he never shied away from making bold moves.
“Until we go all the way down, how can you condemn me?” Smith said in during an interview with the Sentinel in January. “For what? Trying? Condemn me. If trying is a sin, then I have sinned a lot, because I'm never going to stop trying. That's not my makeup.”
Now, the Magic will seek some definitive word from Howard about his future intentions, although it would seem that Howard will want to see who the team hires as its coach and as its GM.
Martins said team officials have been in contact recently with Howard and his representatives about what Howard wants for his own future.
“But I think the decision’s up to Dwight now,” Martins said. “I think Dwight needs to decide where his future lies. It’s been well-documented as to what our desires are. Now Dwight needs to decide what his are.”
email@example.com. Sentinel staff writer Brian Schmitz contributed to this report.