UPDATE, 2:54 p.m. ET: Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Magic have ended all trade talks for Dwight Howard. Stay tuned to NBA.com for more on this story.
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HANG TIME NEW JERSEY BUREAU — Could Dwight Howard be traded before Chris Paul? A few days ago, the answer would have been “no way.” But with Paul talks in somewhat of a holding pattern, the Howard rumors reached a fever pitch in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports has the report…
Talks between the Orlando Magic and New Jersey Nets for a Dwight Howard blockbuster trade have gathered momentum over the past several days, and the framework of a possible four-team deal has taken shape, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Front office sources say Nets general manager Billy King has aggressively pursued the necessary players and picks to try and satisfy Orlando’s demands for Howard, one of the league’s most dominating and popular players.
New Jersey and Orlando are working toward a core deal that would send center Brook Lopez and another significant player obtained elsewhere to the Magic for Howard and Hedo Turkoglu, sources said.
The Magic are listening, but there is 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 Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks, but the Nets’ future in Brooklyn has been most intriguing to him.
What other teams could be involved? You would have to imagine they’d be in the Western Conference, where GMs would have motivation to keep Howard in the East and away from the Los Angeles Lakers.
In fact, a surprising candidate is involved in the talks, according to Marc Stein and Chad Ford over at ESPN.com:
The New Jersey Nets have entered into serious talks with the Orlando Magic on a multiteam trade scenario that would bring Dwight Howard to the Nets, according to sources close to the process.
Sources told ESPN.com that the most active proposal discussed by the teams would send Portland Trail Blazers swingman Gerald Wallace to the Magic along with Nets center Brook Lopez as two of the main pieces Orlando would receive in exchange for Howard.
As part of such a trade, which could be expanded to include a fourth team, sources say Orlando would also shed the long-term contracts of Hedo Turkoglu and Chris Duhon — both absorbed by New Jersey — while also potentially receiving future draft considerations.
Other players would have to be added to the deal to make the salary-cap math work, but sources said Portland would receive multiple first-round picks as part of the exchange for surrendering Wallace and facilitating the trade.
Yet it remains to be seen if the Brooklyn-bound Nets can convince the Magic to indeed go through with trading Howard before the season starts. Earlier this week, one source familiar with the Magic’s thinking insisted to ESPN.com that they were not yet prepared to trade Howard away, clinging to the hope that he can be talked into staying.
Howard himself is known for changing his views on the matter on a near-daily basis, torn by his desire to move to a more glamorous market like Brooklyn or Los Angeles and the prospect of staying with the team that drafted him and delivering the championship to Orlando that Shaquille O’Neal could not.
One source said that the Nets were moving “aggressively” in their pursuit of Howard after Nene — New Jersey’s top free-agent target — agreed to terms Tuesday night on a five-year, $67 million deal to return to the Denver Nuggets.
Could a blockbuster involving the second-best player in the league go down before the season starts? That’s Orlando’s decision, but a deal would be much easier to pull off before the Nets spend money on free agents, even if they’re only handing out one-year deals to preserve their 2012 cap space.