HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — Time is running out on the Brooklyn Nets. If they’re going to work out a four-team trade for Dwight Howard, they probably need to do it in the next 24 hours. The free agency moratorium period ends at midnight ET on Tuesday, and at that point, teams and players will need to start moving on.
The latest reported deal required the cooperation of not only four teams, but also six free agents who need to agree on new contracts and new destinations. So to say that the negotiations are fragile would be an understatement.
That’s good news for other teams looking to land Howard. And near the top of the list are the Atlanta Hawks. Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that Danny Ferry is lying in wait, hoping to bring Howard home…
The Hawks have engaged the Magic in trade talks involving Howard, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions. That person did not want to be identified because the teams involved have not discussed the negotiations publicly.
The Hawks could offer Orlando better players than the Nets. But Atlanta could run the risk of trading away valuable assets only to lose Howard in free agency when his contract expires after next season.
Howard has given no indication he’s willing to commit beyond next season to any team other than Brooklyn. He recently told Yahoo Sports that if a team other than the Nets acquired him, he planned to play out his contract and become a free agent next summer.
As our man David Aldridge reported yesterday, the Nets and Magic are in talks with the Cleveland Cavaliers and at least one other team (it could be the Clippers … or Hawks … or Bobcats … or just about any team) to make a Howard mega-deal possible:
Amid several reports that a deal to send Dwight Howardto the Brooklyn Nets is close, a source directly involved in the discussions said Monday that the Nets are exploring offers from other teams that want to get involved in the Howard talks besides the Cleveland Cavaliers — the third team that is reportedly the conduit to take on players and Draft picks to enable Brooklyn to get Howard while sending players and picks to the Magic.
While the structure of a deal involving the Nets, Magic, Cavaliers and at least one other team is in place, involving numerous players, the moving parts involved in that scenario are a long way from being resolved. For example, Brooklyn created the structure of the deal, which would include sending forward Kris Humphries to the Cavaliers as part of the trade. However, Humphries, being a free agent, would have to agree to the terms of a sign-and-trade deal first.
If Howard still has his eyes set on Brooklyn, the Hawks would be taking risk by trading Al Horford (in all likelihood) as part of a package for the three-time DPOY. But that’s similar to the risk that the Nets took when they got Deron Williams at the 2010 deadline from the Jazz. And given the chance to get Williams invested in their franchise (and eventually acquire Gerald Wallace and Joe Johnson), the Nets were able to convince him to stay.
Could the Hawks pull off the same trade-and-sell scenario?