Dwight Howard Trade Rumors: New Jersey Nets Have One Shot to Attract Howard

John Nizinski@@jniz73Analyst IIIFebruary 22, 2012

MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic looks on during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on February 19, 2012 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The New Jersey Nets will host Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic on Feb 22.

This is the only game this season between the Nets and Magic that will be played at the Prudential Center in New Jersey. The Nets have one shot to do everything they can to attract the center to their team. 

Trade talks involving Howard coming to New Jersey have been halted, mainly because of Brook Lopez's injury. With Lopez back on the court and Howard in town, there will be a lot riding on the game. Howard could indeed come to the Nets via trade this season or as a free agent in the offseason.

The Nets have prepared for this game by calling it "Dwight Night." They are trying to make him feel like the center of attention so that he feels welcomed and wanted.

They have offered promotions that include discounted ticket prices in the "Loud and Proud" section if fans wear Nets gear. This will encourage fans to come to the game and support the Nets, which in turn will show Howard that the team has strong fan support.

Howard originally declared the Nets as his preferred team to go to and even asked for a trade to them. However, he has also expressed interest in teams like the Mavericks, Lakers and Clippers, and the list seems to get bigger as we get closer to the trade deadline. 

The Nets have to prove to Howard that they are the right team for him and that they should still be his preferred destination. They also have something to prove to the Orlando Magic.

The main trade piece for the Nets is center Brook Lopez. However, in his first game against the Milwaukee Bucks, he certainly looked like a player who had missed a few months. He was rusty and struggled to find a rhythm or even be a factor on the court.

The Nets need Lopez to have a solid game against the Magic, since this game will basically be an audition. If Lopez struggles, the Magic organization will most likely be hesitant and less interested in him. However, if Lopez has a strong game and proves he is a top big man in the league, the Magic may be less reluctant to trade Howard to the Nets for Lopez.

The Nets' chances of acquiring Howard from the Magic may rely on this one game. With Howard and possibly Deron Williams on the line, the Nets need to do everything they can to appear attractive to the Magic star and make sure Lopez has a strong game.