Warriors pursue Howard, but will Magic listen?
Golden State management is willing to take Howard as a one-season “rental,” with the hope of selling him on signing a long-term deal before he enters free agency this summer. Like most teams, Golden State has inquired with Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith, but the Magic have yet to commit to aggressively pursuing a trade of Howard.
For the Magic to become intrigued with package, two things would likely have to appeal to them: rebuilding around young point guard Stephen Curry; and the Warriors’ salary-cap space to absorb the three years and $34 million left on Hedo Turkoglu’s contract. The possibility of the pursuit could be complicated by questions about the sturdiness of Curry’s surgically repaired right ankle. The Warriors are willing to part with either of their two guards – Curry or Monta Ellis – but teams clearly will watch how Curry recovers from his recurring ankle sprains.
The Utah Jazz own the Warriors’ 2012 first-round pick, which is protected through No. 7, but Golden State would give its next available first-rounder to the Magic. The availability of the rest of the Warriors roster, plus future picks, would be wide open for negotiation, sources said.
Most teams aren’t willing to gut rosters to get Howard only to lose him to free agency in the summer. Yet, the Warriors made a run for Chris Paul as a rental, and are determined to offer more for Howard, a franchise center. Golden State is probably five years away from a new downtown San Francisco arena that will be more appealing to star players, but owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are determined to sell a top-five media market and rabid fan base to players. They would have to take a huge risk to make a deal for Howard, but sources said they’re determined to try whatever it takes to satisfy the Magic’s needs for a trade – including the construction of more complicated three- and four-team trade scenarios.
[ Related: Warriors’ Stephen Curry sprains ankle again ]
The Warriors think they can sell Howard on the endorsement possibilities of a global NBA star in Silicon Valley. From tech companies to social media, Golden State thinks Howard would find an untapped market, as well as a nod from Adidas, who is preparing a new deal for him. And the bottom line is this: Should Golden State make a deal for Howard, he would have to take $30 million less over the length of a contract extension to leave this summer.
Far from frontrunners, Golden State’s best chance of acquiring Howard could come with a failure of the Magic and Los Angeles Lakers to agree on a deal centered on Andrew Bynum. Howard has told Orlando management that he would sign extensions with three teams – the Dallas Mavericks, Lakers and New Jersey Nets – but the Nets and Mavericks aren’t in strong position to make deals for Howard.
Orlando has been iffy on Nets center Brook Lopez, who has been lost for several weeks with a broken foot. Howard has indicated the Nets are his preference, and they do have the salary-cap space to sign him this summer. Still, Orlando has until the March 15 trade deadline to get a return on Howard, who insists he will leave as a free agent.
Despite Howard’s preference to go to the Brooklyn-bound Nets to play with Deron Williams, those close to Howard still believe he’s fluctuating on his future and could be sold on different scenarios.
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