Nets reach deal with Brook Lopez; pursuit of Dwight Howard effectively ends

The Brooklyn Nets have signed center Brook Lopez on a four-year, $61 million contract extension, effectively ending their pursuit of Orlando Magic All-Star Dwight Howard for the summer.

Once Lopez – the centerpiece of a package the Nets offered the Magic – signed his contract Wednesday it assured that he can't be traded until Jan. 15 under NBA rules.

Magic general manager Rob Hennigan indicated earlier Wednesday that the franchise was unlikely to strike a deal with Brooklyn – the only team with which Howard has said he'd sign a long-term extension. "As currently constructed," Hennigan said of talks with the Nets, "there's not a whole lot there."

Orlando has engaged Houston in trade talks and is still holding dialogue with the Los Angeles Lakers, but Hennigan didn't sound to be in a rush to make a deal. After a three-team deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers fell apart this week for Howard, the Nets unsuccessfully scrambled to find a way to do a trade directly with Orlando, or perhaps even recruit additional teams at this late stage in the Lopez talks, sources said.

Hennigan said he spoke with Howard on Wednesday and didn't rule out the chance Howard could still be on the Magic's roster when training camp begins.

[Also: Knicks get old again, bring back Marcus Camby, re-sign J.R. Smith]

Nets president Billy King made an improved offer on Wednesday morning to spare the Nets the turmoil of Lopez signing an offer sheet with the Charlotte Bobcats, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. King made the first four years and $61 million of the extension fully guaranteed – no partial guarantees to account for Lopez’s foot problems. The Bobcats couldn't offer Lopez more guaranteed money than the Nets are giving him.

King was meeting with Lopez's agent, Arn Tellem, on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Brooklyn had tried to find potential three-team deals where another team would take Kris Humphries in a sign-and-trade to assist in getting Howard. Portland was one destination that the Nets explored on Wednesday, but there wasn't much traction there, sources said.

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