The Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic have had preliminary contact about a possible deal for All-Star center Dwight Howard, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Orlando officials are willing to discuss trades for Howard, and the Lakers have been one of the teams in touch with them over the weekend, sources said. The Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets have also talked to Magic officials, sources said.
While the Lakers have yet to make a direct offer, there's no scenario where Orlando would move Howard to the Lakers without getting back Andrew Bynum, L.A.'s 24-year-old All-Star center. Pau Gasol wouldn't fit the Magic's desires to rebuild with young players and draft picks.
The Lakers had been willing to part with Bynum for Howard in March, but those talks ended when Howard decided to decline his early termination option and remain under contract through the 2012-13 season.
The Magic reached out to teams Saturday and told them that they’ll discuss proposals about moving Howard, sources said.
Howard and his agent, Dan Fegan, have repeatedly told the Magic in recent weeks that Howard wants to be moved, and that his preferred destination of the Brooklyn Nets hasn’t changed, sources said.
Nevertheless, time is running out for Howard to be traded to Brooklyn because Nets general manager Billy King has begun to aggressively explore deals for players like Joe Johnson, Luis Scola and O.J. Mayo in an attempt to surround free-agent point guard Deron Williams with more talent. Williams is choosing between the Nets and Dallas Mavericks and could make a decision in the next several days. Sources say Williams' patience with waiting for Howard to eventually come to Brooklyn is wearing out, and that he’s likely to make his decision whether to accept the Nets' five-year, $100 million contract offer devoid of Howard as a factor.
The Nets have already reached agreement with Gerald Wallace on a four-year, $40 million deal and are working to re-sign Brook Lopez, another of their free agents. Their salary cap will be too congested to sign Howard as a free agent next summer. For now, Brooklyn could include Lopez in a sign-and-trade with young players and future draft picks for Howard, but the Nets probably can’t construct the most attractive package for Orlando.
The Houston Rockets remain determined to try to land Howard, and have several young players to offer as part of a package.
Other popular content on Yahoo! Sports:
• Marc J. Spears: Winners and losers from NBA draft
• 2012 NBA draft pick-by-pick analysis | Slideshow
• Dan Wetzel: Joe Paterno's role in Jerry Sandusky cover-up grows as evidence is leaked