The Magic's decision came Wednesday after the Nets assembled a multiteam trade proposal for Howard that would have sent the Magic center Brook Lopez, Portland Trail Blazers forward Gerald Wallace, point guard Jordan Farmar and a first-round draft pick. The Nets also would have taken on Chris Duhon and Hedo Turkoglu. The Blazers would have received four draft picks for Wallace.
With the framework of a deal in place, talks had reached the ownership level in Orlando, league sources said. Nevertheless, Magic ownership did not approve of the trade, and general manager Otis Smith then informed teams Howard had been removed from the market.
Howard told teammates on Tuesday that he thought the trade to the Nets was a "done deal," a league source told Y! Sports. Twenty-four hours later on Wednesday, Howard told them that he was under the impression that "ownership killed it," the source said.
Howard has warned the Magic if they don't move him by the March 15 trade deadline, they'll lose him for nothing in free agency. Howard told the Magic again on Tuesday that he wanted a trade, a league source said.
"Dwight's not a happy camper," one league source told Y! Sports.
The Magic still prefer what the Lakers could offer in any possible future trade talks, with a possible package of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum more attractive on a pure talent basis. The Nets have been far more aggressive in the pursuit of Howard than the Lakers, who are usually methodical in trade discussions.
Howard had requested a trade to the Nets, and the Magic had granted Howard's representatives permission to explore opportunities with New Jersey and two other teams: the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks.
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The biggest hurdle for the Nets to acquire Howard was ultimately the Magic’s willingness to give up their future with him and concede that re-signing him is a lost cause. Orlando could decide to reopen talks at any time or perhaps keep Howard until the trade deadline in March and re-evaluate the market for him. There’s still a belief among Magic officials that a successful season could help them keep Howard for the long-term.
The Los Angeles Times reported the Magic also were involved in trade discussions with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Magic listened, but there was 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 Lakers and 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.
Aside from Howard's request, the Magic have little motivation to complete a deal quickly. The Nets' trade with 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 have already reached out their own free agent, forward Kris Humphries, and expected to soon start contract talks with him, 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.
The 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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