Talks between the Orlando Magic and New Jersey Nets for a Dwight Howard blockbuster trade have gathered momentum over the past several days, and the framework of a possible four-team deal has taken shape, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Front office sources say Nets general manager Billy King has aggressively pursued the necessary players and picks to try and satisfy Orlando's demands for Howard, one of the league’s most dominating and popular players.
The biggest hurdle for the Nets to acquire Howard will still ultimately be the Magic’s willingness to give up their future with him and concede that re-signing him is a lost cause. Orlando could also decide to keep Howard until the trade deadline in March and re-evaluate the market for him. There’s still a belief within the Magic a successful season could help them keep Howard for the long-term.
No deal was imminent, but several league sources said talks were entering a crucial time, and the Nets were trying to get the proposal's complex framework completed in the near future. Magic GM Otis Smith has been working with King on the possible deal. The Los Angeles Times reported the Magic also are involved in trade discussions with the Los Angeles Lakers.
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The Magic are listening, but there is still real doubt about their willingness to completely give up hope on convincing Howard to re-sign with them after he opts out of his contract in July. Howard has been willing to sign extensions with the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks, but the Nets' future in Brooklyn has been most intriguing to him.
Howard has been sold on the idea of pairing with Deron Williams in a new Brooklyn arena beginning in 2012-13, and informed Magic officials he wants a trade to New Jersey. Howard hasn’t rescinded his trade request to the Nets, but as one source close to him says: “He runs hot and cold. …He just doesn’t always know what he wants.”
While the Magic have engaged with the Nets, it’s still unclear if they’re motivated at all to trade Howard now. After all, the Nets deal for Lopez will always be there, so why rush into it? The Magic still believe with some team success this season, Howard can be swayed.
The Nets had been in the bidding for Nene, who agreed to re-sign with the Denver Nuggets on a five-year, $65 million deal with incentive bonuses.
The Nets are waiting on the Howard deal before trying to sign free agents. If they miss out on Howard, they'll likely try to re-sign free-agent forward Kris Humphries to a one-year contract worth $8 million-$9 million, sources said. The Nets will likely try to limit any players they add in free agency to one-year deals if they don't acquire Howard to preserve salary-cap space for Howard's expected free agency this summer.
As the Nets hustle to try and cut a deal for Howard, the Dallas Mavericks continue to clear salary-cap space for the summer when they assuredly hope to make a play for Williams and Howard. Williams is a Dallas native, and the worst case for the Nets would be to watch him join Howard in signing with the Mavericks.
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