The Nets plan to offer young center Brook Lopez and two future first-round picks and accept Hedo Turkoglu's massive contract in order to obtain Howard from the Magic before Howard becomes a free agent next summer, according to an ESPN.com report early Wednesday morning.
Magic General Manager Otis Smith repeatedly said before the lockout went into effect July 1 that he had no plans to trade his superstar center.
Howard has said he's made no decision about what he'll do when he can become a free agent next summer, and it appears that Howard hasn't changed his stance. If that's indeed the case — Howard hasn't fully answered recent questions about his plans — the Magic almost certainly will choose to hang onto their franchise player.
At 9 this morning, teams will be permitted to speak with agents for the first time since the lockout began, and Smith likely will reach out to Howard's agent, Dan Fegan.
New Jersey's interest in Howard has been obvious. The Nets are just as desperate to hang on to 2012 free-agent-to-be Deron Williams as the Magic are to retain Howard.
What's also obvious — but rarely said — is that the Magic would jump at the opportunity to acquire a superstar point guard to pair with Howard and, therefore, increase the chances of Howard remaining in Orlando for years to come.
So, it's probable that Smith would make a counteroffer to the Nets in attempt to acquire Williams — even though the Nets probably would reject it outright. Aside from Howard, Orlando lacks enough desirable trade chips to make a deal happen.
Smith almost certainly will be inundated with trade offers for Howard, a perennial All-NBA player who is on track to become the most decorated defensive player in league history.
The Nets’ reported willingness to take on Turkoglu would enable the Magic to get far under the salary cap if Orlando also decides to use the amnesty provision in the tentative labor deal on Gilbert Arenas. Divesting itself of Turkoglu’s and Arenas’ deals would give Orlando a chance to rebuild its team via free agency.
Howard is sick of all the speculation.
Late Tuesday, a fan asked Howard over Twitter whether he's ready for the "media circus" over where Howard wants to play.
Howard responded, "imma cut my ears off so I can't hear them."
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