At the beginning of the week, it seemed like Dwight Howard would finally get his wish of playing in Brooklyn. Now, the Magic are re-assessing their options, and could send the center elsewhere.
Prior to his season ending back injury, Howard was averaging 20.6 points, 14.6 rebounds and 2.1 blocks.
The Lakers and Rockets have jumped into the fray as possible trading partners with the Magic. Andrew Bynum would be the key piece moving in any deal involving Los Angeles.
Houston could be involved in a trade with Orlando, even if they don't end up with Howard. The Rockets have stockpiled draft picks and young players with the hope of acquiring Howard, but they could use those assets to help facilitate a deal between the Lakers and Magic. Bynum would be sent to Houston in such a scenario.
Orlando has been reluctant to trade Howard for Bynum because of the two players' contracts. The Magic are looking to move Howard because he will be a free agent in 2013, but Bynum will also be a free agent next summer. Since the Lakers center won't commit to signing a long-term deal with Orlando, they might rather receive draft picks and other players in a trade.
Houston is willing to take the risk of losing Bynum after just one season.
The Rockets can offer any of their three first-round picks from this year's draft, as well as their first-round selections next season. They also have a lot of cap flexibility, and have the ability to take on a contract that the Magic are looking to move, such as Jason Richardson or Hedo Turkoglu.
Veterans Luis Scola and Kevin Martin could also go to Orlando in a potential deal.
Los Angeles has been reluctant to trade their young center for Howard.
Bynum had a breakout year in 2011-12, averaging 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. Not only is he two years younger than Howard, but he's healthier. The Magic center is coming off of back surgery, and the Lakers might rather hold onto the center that was injury-free this past year.
Howard also won't commit to staying in L.A. for the next few years. However, recent circumstances might make the Lakers change their minds.
Howard has suggested that he will only sign a contract extension with the Nets, but that isn't likely, unless he's traded to Brooklyn. After trading for Joe Johnson and re-signing Deron Williams, the Nets won't have room under the salary cap to offer Howard a max-contract in 2013. Unless Howard is willing to take a lot less money, he won't go to Brooklyn as a free agent.
If Howard realizes the Nets are no longer an option, he may relent and decide to stay with the Lakers. Even if D12 does sign with another team next offseason, there's no guarantee that Bynum will sign an extension to stay in Los Angeles if the Lakers keep him.
The initial four-way trade between the Magic, Nets, Clippers and Cavaliers fell apart when Cleveland backed out. It's unlikely that Brooklyn and Orlando will be able to work out a trade without the help of other teams.
Atlanta has also been named as a possible landing spot for Howard, but a trade with the Hawks has been described as "not the best option" for the Magic.
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