It seems like their has been a new rumor or report everyday for the last three months regarding Dwight Howard's future with the Orlando Magic. The NBA's top center has been linked in trade talks with countless teams including the Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors and the New Jersey Nets.
While there has been speculation for months that Howard will be traded, there is still a possibility he could remain with the team and test the free agent market summer, although it would be a risky decision for the Orlando Magic.
If the Magic do decide to trade Howard before 3 p.m. on March 15th, the Nets are most likely the team he would join. Orlando could acquire Brook Lopez and MarShon Brooks in a trade, in addition to getting rid of Hedo Turkoglu and the remaining $23 million or so left on his contract after this season.
This move pair Dwight Howard and Deron Williams together on a team that is moving into a brand new arena in Brooklyn this fall.
Another problem for the Magic is even if they don't trade Howard to the Nets before the trade deadline, New Jersey will have enough cap space this summer to offer both him and Williams max contracts.
The Nets won't be the only ones after them. Mark Cuban could be in a position to form his own big three if he is able to amnesty a Brendan Haywood or Shawn Marion in order to create more space.
The Mavericks won't be able to give a max deal to Dwight Howard and Deron Williams, but both of them could sign with Dallas if they are willing to take a discount to play with Dirk Nowitzki.
Howard would be the ideal defensive player to pair with Nowitzki and his offensive abilities. Nowitzki would remain the primary scoring option for the Mavericks, while Howard would be a better version of what Tyson Chandler did for the 2011 title team.
Williams is from Dallas and hasn't ruled out leaving the Nets all together this summer. Playing in his hometown with Nowitzki and Howard would be an enticing scenario with championship possibilities.
They wouldn't quite get the attention and scrutiny of Miami Heat's star-studded trio, but this threesome would form the nucleus for a title contender.
One factor regarding the future of Dwight Howard and Deron Williams that has gotten no attention is the Nets first-round pick in the upcoming NBA draft. They will have a high draft choice in what is being called one of the deepest draft classes in years.
At the top of the every team's draft board is Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis, who is having a monstrous season. Davis is shooting more than 65% from the field and is averaging nearly five blocks a game.
As intriguing as a Howard-Nowitzi-Williams trio in the Metroplex would be, a Howard-Davis-Williams could be even more dominate in the long run.
The only way this will happen is if the Nets win the NBA lottery, but if it does it can only increase the likelihood that Mikhail Prokhorov's franchise will be a championship contender when they move to Brooklyn.
A frontcourt duo of Dwight Howard and Anthony Davis could become the most dominant the league has seen since the days of David Robinson and Tim Duncan in San Antonio. As great as the "twin towers" were for the Spurs, those Hall of Famers never played with a point guard in his prime like Deron Williams.
Although Davis won't be as dominant in the NBA as he was at Lexington (at least right away), he may be the best big man to come out of college since Duncan did 15 years ago. It's scary to think that he won't turn 19 until March 11th and is only getting better at this time.
Davis and Howard could have games together where they combine to have more blocks than Deron Williams has assists.
If Howard is acquired through free agency rather than a trade, the Nets could have three-point specialists MarShon Brooks and Anthony Morrow on their roster as well next season. They will also have the rights to the Houston Rockets first round pick (assuming Houston makes the postseason). That second selection could be used on Washington guard Tony Wroten or Kentucky forward Terrence Jones.
That core may not be able to get them past Chicago or Miami initially, but this team would be in a better position to win an NBA title than the Knicks.
Something else that could factor in to this is the status of Brook Lopez, who will be a restricted free agent this summer. The Nets may have to renounce their rights to re-sign him in order to have the cap space to sign both Howard and Williams. The Knicks had to do the same thing in 2010, when David Lee was a restricted free agent in order to get Amare Stoudemire and still be in a position to sign LeBron James. Lee was eventually traded to the Golden State Warriors, and the Nets would probably be able to find a suitor for Lopez as well.
The Nets could still go in to next season with Dwight Howard and Deron Williams on their roster without winning the NBA lottery, but the presence of Anthony Davis is more likely to make them think twice about going to Dallas than the presence of Thomas Robinson or Harrison Barnes.
At this point it seems unlikely that Dwight Howard will be playing for the Orlando Magic next season (one way or another) and very likely that he and Williams will be on the same team next season.
The deciding factor for this duo could come down to their preference for playing in Dallas with a 34-year old Dirk Nowitzki or in Brooklyn with a rookie like Anthony Davis, Thomas Robinson or Harrison Barnes.