There are plenty of good seats available on the Dwight Howard-to-Brooklyn train, but that deal might not be leaving the station without a significant nudge from a third team now that the Cleveland Cavaliers are backing out of discussions.
The Orlando Magic and Brooklyn Nets continue to discuss trade scenarios but matters grew more complex Tuesday when the Cavaliers, as first reported by Yahoo Sports, backed out of the deal. That development left the two teams to reconfigure a deal palatable to all sides while luring potential replacement teams into discussions to replace the Cavaliers.
The breakdown isn't a death knell for the deal, but it did prompt the Magic to resume talks with other teams, according to ESPN SportsCenter reports.
The Cavaliers were a key spoke in the Howard trade hub. Cleveland has the salary cap maneuverability to absorb sign-and-trade contracts others might not and in the now-dead proposal would have received from the Nets forward Kris Humphries, guard Sundiata Gaines and a future first-round pick. The Magic would have dealt small forward Quentin Richardson to Cleveland.
ESPN's Ric Bucher reported the Charlotte Bobcats could be drawn in as the third team in the deal. The Bobcats have even more cap space than Cleveland. The Clippers remain in the mix as a possible landing spot for Nets' guard MarShon Brooks. The Clippers would trade a future first-rounder to the Magic.
Humphries wasn't agreeable to a one-year guaranteed deal despite pleas from his representatives. His agent, Dan Fegan, also represents Howard.
--The Brooklyn Nets continue to negotiate a contract extension with center Brook Lopez, a move that could help facilitate a sign-and-trade deal or pave the way toward Lopez remaining with the franchise.
Lopez, a 24-year-old 7-footer drafted 10th overall in the 2008 draft, missed the first 32 games last season with a fractured right foot. He was injured in the final preseason game and had surgery Dec. 23.
He played five games, averaging 19.2 points and 3.6 rebounds, before he sprained his right ankle against the Charlotte Bobcats and was shut down for the rest of the season.
--One day after he was dismissed from Team USA workouts to "tend to contract matters," Blake Griffin produced predictably rich results.
Griffin, the No. 1 overall pick in 2009, agreed to a five-year, $95.5 million contract extension with the Clippers just three days after joining the Olympic roster because of a series of injuries.
Griffin limped through the season-ending playoff loss to the Spurs with a knee injury but said he's 100 percent entering the London games.
The 23-year-old power forward is an explosive leaper whose highlight reel dunks have stretched his appeal well beyond Los Angeles does room for improvement. He shot 54.9 percent from the field in 2011-12 and averaged 20.7 points and 10.9 rebounds, benefiting from the addition of point guard Chris Paul.
--The Spurs and power forward Tim Duncan are close to an agreement on a three-year contract extension, Yahoo Sports reported.
Duncan averaged 15.4 points and nine rebounds last season but said he had no intention of leaving San Antonio via free agency. The deal includes a no-trade clause.
Duncan, small forward Danny Green, power forward Boris Diaw and point guard Patty Mills have agreed to deals to return to San Antonio when the moratorium on contract signings ends Wednesday.
--Days after landing free agent guard Ray Allen, the Miami Heat reached agreement with forward Rashard Lewis on a one-year, $1.35 million deal, according to the Miami Herald.
Lewis will be making the veteran minimum salary, but it's not as though he will be hurting for money this season. He was traded from the Washington Wizards to New Orleans Hornets just before last month's draft, and New Orleans subsequently bought out the final year of his contract for $13.7 million.
Lewis, a two-time NBA All-Star, will enter his 14th season in the NBA after averaging 7.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in 28 games, including 15 starts, last season for Washington. He sustained a left knee bone bruise that ended his season before the All-Star break.
--The active New York Knicks have agreed to a contract to re-sign guard J.R. Smith to a two-year deal worth $5.6 million.
The first year of the deal is guaranteed and he holds a player option for 2013-14. If Smith opts out of the deal, the Knicks have retained his Bird rights, and can exceed the salary cap to sign him to another contract next summer.
Smith is one of several key veterans the Knicks are expected to retain when Wednesday's signing moratorium is lifted. The Knicks are expected to match the Houston Rockets' $28.8 million offer to point guard Jeremy Lin despite agreeing to a deal with veteran Jason Kidd and working out a sign-and-trade deal with Marcus Camby.
The team also has a four-year agreement with small forward Steve Novak, who led the NBA in 3-point shooting accuracy at 47.2 percent last season.
--The Lakers issued a statement Tuesday to clarify the condition of team owner Jerry Buss, who was hospitalized Monday.
Lakers spokesman John Black a statement saying: "In response to media inquiries and to dispel rumors and inaccurate reports, we'd like to state that Dr. Buss is in a local hospital where he is being treated for dehydration. He is recovering and is expected to be released soon."
TMZ first reported that Buss, 78, fainted at his home in Los Angeles and was rushed to the hospital Monday night.