Earlier this week a blockbuster four-team trade that would have sent the all-star center to Brooklyn appeared to be gaining momentum, but the latest reports indicate the Magic is once again exploring other options.
While a move to the Nets remains a distinct possibility, both the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets are now in the mix, as first reported by Hoopsworld.com that cited sources close to the process.
The Rockets are the latest team to enter the fray and are said to be interested in either acquiring Howard or being the third team in a deal that would send Howard to Los Angeles and Lakers center Andrew Bynum to Houston.
The Magic has been hesitant to deal for Bynum, who is entering the final year of his contract and could choose to enter free agency after the season. The Rockets, meantime, are said to be willing to deal for an elite player without the assurance of a multi-year contract.
For the Rockets to land Bynum (or Howard), they would likely need to take on the contract of Orlando’s Jason Richardson and possibly another player, deal the soon-to-be-acquired 2013 first-round pick from the trade that sent Kyle Lowry to Toronto and unload productive veterans like Kevin Martin and Luis Scola. The Lakers would send Bynum to Houston and draft picks and players, perhaps including guard Ramon Sessions, to Orlando. The Magic would unload Howard and multiple unwanted veteran contracts.
But among the many hurdles to such a deal is the fact that Howard seems set on Brooklyn as his top choice. And while the Lakers believe they could persuade the 6-11 center to re-sign in L.A. after next season, it’s no guarantee.
Meantime the Nets continue to seek out additional trade partners to piece together a deal to bring Howard to Brooklyn as the centerpiece of a new ‘Big 3’ with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. According to ESPN.com, the Charlotte Bobcats could replace the Cleveland Cavaliers as the third team involved in that deal.
At this point, Howard leaving Orlando is a necessity, but the longer these negotiations drag on, the more muddled they become. And that’s starting to frustrate new Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan, who, according to a Sporting News report, is eager to get a deal done and move forward with rebuilding the franchise.
What’s the best destination for the Magic’s disgruntled big man? Brooklyn? Los Angeles? Houston? A yacht with Stan Van Gundy? Somewhere else?