After weeks of proposed trades and speculation, the Dwight Howard saga rages on, as the epicenter of the Orlando Magic All-Star center’s deal has begun to shift from the East to West. Earlier this week a blockbuster four-team trade that would have sent Howard to Brooklyn appeared to be a done deal. But in an unforeseen twist of events, the pursuit of the NBA’s premiere big man has quickly turned into the league’s biggest debacle in recent years.
ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher reported on Tuesday that the Magic had reopened negotiations with teams other than the Brooklyn Nets for Howard, after the Cleveland Cavaliers backed out of the four-team trade talks –that also involved the Los Angeles Clippers, which would have shipped D12 to BK. The Nets have been in negotiations all month to finalize a deal that would allow them to acquire the perennial All-Star and pair him with returning All-Star point-guard Deron Williams, and incoming All-Star guard Joe Johnson, to form their own iteration of “the Big Three.” But in order for the deal to work, Nets general manager Billy King needs other teams to be included to complete the trade.
Sources say, discussions for the initial deal stalled on Monday, after Cavs owner Dan Gilbert’s refused to sign off on the deal. Gilbert’s (who publicly voiced his discontent over LeBron James departing Cleveland to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in South Beach back in 2010) – reluctance towards the deal stemmed from not wanting to be criticized for his potential role in helping the Nets assemble the NBA’s latest super-team. With the Nets’ longtime pursuit of Howard complicated by the withdrawal of the Cavaliers as a third team to facilitate the trade, the Magic have reopened conversations with the Los Angeles Lakers, the Houston Rockets and the Atlanta Hawks.
With Cleveland out of the equation, Orlando’s weighing whether a more robust package of draft picks and cap relief could be achieved by proceeding with discussions long under way with the Lakers and Rockets. In a two-team trade, L.A. would send Andrew Bynum to Houston in exchange for Howard, which would team him up with Kobe Bryant and the recently acquired two-time MVP Steve Nash. The Nets are still Howard’s preferred destination, and the only team with which he has signaled a willingness to sign a long-term deal if traded. It’s reported that Howard and Williams have been back-and-forth for a few years at the potential opportunity of teaming up together to contend for a championship in the Nets first season in Brooklyn. But with the Nets working on finalizing a max extension with center Brook Lopez on Wednesday, King’s position has been made clear to the Magic: trade Howard to BK by the close of business Wednesday, or the Nets will move forward without him.
Clearly, that is not how D.Howard expected things to go down. The three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year could have avoided this entire fiasco had he declined to opt into his contract back in February. Now, he must sit and wait and his immediate future will be determined by the Magic. As the list of potential trade destinations for Howard keeps growing, and with the clock ticking down on the Nets patience, where will D12 land? ATL, BK, L.A. or H-Town?