Orlando GM Otis Smith has made it clear that he will trade Howard wherever the Magic get the best possible package, but the fact that Howard is willing to sign a five-year, $109 million extension with New Jersey makes it likely that the Nets can be the most aggressive in offering an attractive package. New Jersey has been pursuing possible third-team partners to strengthen the offer for Howard, front-office sources tell Y! Sports.
Smith confirmed to the Orlando Sentinel that Howard asked to be traded.
Los Angeles had long been a preferred choice of Howard's, but sources say that several factors have pushed him toward the Nets over the Lakers. Howard has a strong relationship with Deron Williams, and has also resisted following the same career path as Shaquille O'Neal, who left the Magic for the Lakers two decades ago.
The Nets are offering a package centered on Brook Lopez and multiple first-round picks, sources said. New Jersey is busily pursuing the involvement of third and fourth teams to broaden an offer to the Magic beyond Lopez and picks, front office executives tell Y! Sports. The Nets have been determined to make a deal for Howard, one of the league's most dominant players, to be a centerpiece for them as they move into the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn next season. Howard could pair with Williams to make the Nets instant Eastern Conference contenders.
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The Magic are still focused on a possible trade to the Lakers, sources said, for a package that would include Andrew Bynum. The Magic want to unload Hedo Turkoglu in any deal that includes Howard. The Nets, flush with salary cap space, would likely take Turkoglu into a deal.
Howard prefers the Nets over the Lakers, but hasn't ruled out the possibility that he would sign a long-term extension with L.A. if he is traded there.
Orlando officials have resisted being told where Howard wants to be traded, sources said, but understand it will be difficult to get a strong trade package elsewhere if Howard won't commit to re-signing with that team. After opting out of his contract on July 1, Howard would be eligible for a five year, $109 million extension with the Nets.
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