The Orlando Magic are talking to the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets in various trade scenarios involving Dwight Howard, according to league sources. However, a source directly involved in the discussions said Tuesday night that no deal involving Howard going to either team was likely at the moment — though the situation remains fluid and could re-heat at any moment.
Discussions with the Brooklyn Nets, the one team Howard has said he’d be willing to sign a contract extension with after this season, were “quiet,” the source said Tuesday. A proposed four-team deal involving the Nets, Magic, Cavaliers and Clippers never came near fruition, and the Nets started looking for different trade partners Monday. In that complicated deal, Howard would have gone to Brooklyn, with the Nets sending center Brook Lopez (in a sign and trade deal) along with three future first-round picks to Orlando, and Cleveland taking Nets free agent Kris Humphries in a sign-and-trade deal. A fourth team, reportedly at various points the Clippers, Bobcats or Timberwolves, would have taken another Nets player, guard MarShon Brooks. But another source said Tuesday reports that that deal was anywhere near close were “way premature” because of all the moving parts involved.
The basketball website HoopsWorld reported Tuesday that the Magic, Rockets and Lakers had initiated discussions with one another about potential trade scenarios involving Howard and Lakers center Andrew Bynum. The website said the Magic were talking about potential deals that would send Howard to the Lakers and Bynum to the Rockets, with the Magic getting what they want most of all: numerous future Draft picks. The Los Angeles Times reported later Tuesday that the Lakers would be willing to take the contract of guard Jason Richardson (three years and $18.6 million remaining) from Orlando to facilitate the trade. The Magic has also been looking for someone to take the contract of forward Hedo Turkoglu (two years, $23 million remaining) in a potential Howard deal.
The Lakers are uncertain that they’ll be able to re-sign Bynum, who made his first All-Star team last season and is entering the final year of his contract. Bynum has loads of talent, but has rubbed feelings raw within the organization with occasional bouts of immaturity and bad on-court decisions. But Howard has not yet said that he would be willing to sign an extension with the Lakers, leaving them leery to pull the trigger on any potential deal.
“Dwight does control this, still,” another source directly involved in the talks said Tuesday.
The Rockets have made no secret of their desire to get a star player, having amassed any number of potential assets in the last two weeks. Even though Howard has consistently said he will not sign an extension in Houston, either, the Rockets have gathered pieces they hope will be palatable to Orlando.
They got an extra first-round pick from Minnesota for forward Chase Budinger, then traded center Samuel Dalembert and the 14th pick to Milwaukee for the 12th pick and forwards Jon Brockman and Jon Leuer. Houston then took guard Jeremy Lamb and forwards Royce White and Terrence Jones in the Draft. They then traded starting point guard Kyle Lowry to Toronto for a future lottery pick, a pick that could be a significant chip in potential deals. On Monday, Houston sent veteran center Marcus Camby to New York for guard Toney Douglas and bigs Josh Harrellson and Jerome Jordan, as well as two future second-round picks. The Rockets also are expected to tender an offer sheet to Chicago center Omer Asik for three years and $25 million when the July Moratorium ends early Wednesday morning, as well as a four-year, $28 million sheet for Knicks guard Jeremy Lin. The Knicks, however, are expected to match the offer sheet.
Houston also still has guard Kevin Martin, who is entering the last year of his contract, and talented forward Luis Scola as potential trade chips as well.
The Magic remain determined to deal Howard, who asked for a trade last year before changing his mind at the last minute and opting in to the last year of his contract instead of becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer. Though he and the Magic expressed their desire publicly to try and mend fences, and fired former coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith, Howard reiterated his trade request last month to the Magic’s new general manager Rob Hennigan. The Magic have indicated since the end of the season that they will trade Howard rather than repeat the soap opera of last season.