Dwight Howard Trade Rumors: Are New Jersey Nets Still a Trade Option for Magic?

John NizinskiAnalyst IIIMarch 5, 2012

The New Jersey Nets chances of acquiring Dwight Howard in a trade might be looking slim, but are they still a legitimate option?

New Jersey's main piece in any trade to acquire Howard is Brook Lopez. The Nets and Magic were reportedly close to agreeing on a deal that would include swapping Lopez and Howard.

All possibilities for a trade early on in the season disappeared when Lopez broke his foot in the final preseason game against the New York Knicks.

He recently returned to the Nets and looked like a player that missed a few months in his first two games back. In his third game back, he went off against the Dallas Mavericks, scoring 38 points. He followed that up with 28 points against the Boston Celtics. In just his fifth game back, he sprained his ankle, which will keep him out past the trade deadline.

Do the Magic want to trade for a player that hasn't been able to stay healthy?

One of the biggest perks of Brook Lopez before this season was his durability. The two biggest names involved in any trade to acquire Howard from the Magic were Lopez and Andrew Bynum.

While many may consider Bynum the better player, his injury history was a legitimate concern. Now it seems as if the tables have turned. Lopez has struggled to stay healthy this season, whereas Bynum has played in 33 of the 37 Lakers games this season.

The Magic can still trade for Lopez despite the injury, but has their feelings about whether he really is a durable player like he showed in his first three seasons?

If Howard still wants out of Orlando, they have to trade him because they will be left with nothing. If that is the case, the Nets have to still be a trade option because of what they can offer. In addition to Lopez, the Nets can (although I really hope they don't) trade rookie MarShon Brooks, draft picks and take back some bloated contracts.

Lopez's small window of playing time that he has had this season shows he still is a versatile scorer. His ankle sprain is not connected at all to the broken bone that he recently recovered from.

Add this to the other things the Nets can do in a trade for Howard, and you have to think that the Nets are still a possible trade option for the Orlando Magic.