Nets Are Feeling Cocky, Still Think They'll Get Dwight Howard

Brian GiuffraContributor IMarch 15, 2012

Gerald Wallace is just a trading piece for the Nets
Gerald Wallace is just a trading piece for the NetsElsa/Getty Images

The Nets are feeling cocky. The Nets are feeling lucky. The Nets are feeling like the duel for Dwight Howard is just getting started, and they’re arming up for a long battle. 

That’s why they traded for Gerald Wallace, which has been agreed to in principle, according to Marc Stein of ESPN. That’s why they gave up a first-round pick for him. Not because Wallace is going to help the Nets keep Deron Williams. Because he won’t. 

The Nets think Wallace will be one of the major trading pieces in a deal that snatches Howard away from Orlando. Nothing more. Nothing less. 

They know Wallace isn’t selling jerseys. They know Wallace isn’t selling seats. They know the Barclays Center won’t be full because Gerald Wallace is on the team.

Dwight Howard, on the other hand, does all that. And the Nets clearly believe Wallace will help lead to Howard. 

In December, when the Nets appeared close to acquiring Howard at the start of the season, Wallace was one of the major players in the three-team deal where Howard would wind up in Brooklyn by way of New Jersey. Nets center Brook Lopez was also expected to head to the Magic along with two first-round picks. 

Well guess what? The Nets have all those pieces now.

They have Wallace. They have Brook Lopez. They have the first-round picks. Now all they need is Dwight Howard to demand a trade again at the end of this season. And it could happen.

Last week, Howard made it abundantly clear that he wanted to play out the rest of this season with the Magic before adding that Orlando would have to “roll the dice,” on whether he would become a free agent after that. The Magic, upset about the comments, put Howard on the trading block unless he waved his opt-out clause. 

Howard caved, waved his opt-out clause and agreed to stay with the Magic for one more year because he didn’t want to get shipped to New Jersey and the sinking Nets.

Howard is a winner. He wants to win championships. He's said it hundreds of times. And he knows the Magic have a half-decent chance of winning a title this year and he would rather have a small chance with them than no shot at all with the Nets. 

What about the offseason though? What’s to stop Howard from saying he wants a trade then and won’t sign an extension after next year? Then the Magic would be in the same position they were this year. Looking for a trade. 

And guess who will be waiting? Yes. The Nets. The cocky Nets, who stockpiled up for a long fight.