The Magic are doing everything they can into coaxing Dwight Howard to re-sign with the team, according to Marc Stein and Chris Broussard of ESPN, but their efforts might be in vain if the Nets' situation remains as is. With the cap flexibility this offseason to sign both superstars Deron Williams and Howard to max money deals, the Nets might opt to wait until the summer to make a play for Howard, rather than make a play for him at the trade deadline.
Any move that involves Howard will certainly gut the Nets roster, stripping the team of their young talent. As Chris Broussard reported in December, budding center Brook Lopez would be the centerpiece of Howard deal, with key role players like MarShon Brooks, Anthony Morrow, Damien James and Kris Humphries likely following him to Orlando.
The deals would inherently leave the Nets with an abysmal roster to play alongside Howard and Williams, and with little cap room remaining for additional help. If the Nets can acquire Howard via free agency and retain the nuts and bolts their current roster, it doesn’t take much common sense to realize this is the ideal move.
In fact, should Orlando balk at the offer of Lopez, it might be the only shot Nets have of taking Howard along with them to Brooklyn. There are teams, such as the Lakers, that can package better deals for Howard. The Nets are a last place team for reason, after all.
Free agency does present a slew of competition from suitors for the Nets, however, as Howard might opt to sign with an established championship caliber team like Dallas who can offer both Williams and Howard deals this summer. Williams being a Dallas native certainly doesn’t go in the Nets favor as well, as Avery Johnson noted the Mavericks as being a threat to sign him.
Trade deadline deals are usually geared towards contenders looking to get over the hump towards making a championship run in the second half of the season. Potentially, the Nets could snag the eight seed in the Eastern Conference should they make a deal, especially with the Knicks in free fall, but it seems more likely that the team is optimistic on contending next year. Moving for Howard at the deadline makes absolutely no sense if the team isn’t contending and can acquire him later.
Inserting Howard into the lineup midseason also presents another perhaps unforeseen risk to the Nets. What if a depleted roster featuring Williams and Howard doesn’t work out initially? We saw what happened with last season with the Knicks when Carmelo Anthony forced his way to the Big Apple. If Howard has the option to opt out of his contract and things aren’t working out with him and D-Will in New Jersey, it wouldn’t be absurd to think he would consider leaving and find another place to contend.
Simply, it just makes the most sense to hold off a Howard trade. If Howard’s interior motives are truly to chase a championship, he would be better off finishing the season with the Magic and signing with New Jersey in the summer. Howard could find himself bringing basketball to Brooklyn with a bang, donning a Nets jersey for the first time in the franchise’s inaugural season at the Barclay’s Center.
Howard might even usurp team part-owner Jay-Z as the biggest celebrity in the building.