The potential trade, reported by ESPN.com's Chris Broussard and Brian Windhorst, would create yet another "Big Three" in the Eastern Conference, as Howard would join Deron Williams and Joe Johnson in Brooklyn.
Cleveland didn't appreciate when LeBron James forced Miami's move to collect three stars onto center stage. The Cavaliers now need to be stingy before freely joining a trade that would do the same for the Nets. The trade would also make Howard the second selfish NBA ego to use Cleveland as a stepping stone to his own desires.
Creating another power team within its own conference needs to come with a serious bounty for Cleveland. Humphries alone is not nearly enough.
Kim Kardashian's discarded husband is one of the NBA's best rebounders. He ranked fifth in the league with an average of 11 boards per game last season. He also contributed a healthy 13.8 points per game.
Humphries comes as a quality role player, but serving as a role player is his ceiling. While Cleveland can certainly use a role player, the team desperately needs players that will elevate it to some level of contention.
Low double-digit totals in rebounds and points don't come close to doing that in a star-driven league like the NBA.
Humphries made $8 million in the final year of his contract. The Cavaliers have more than enough cap space to take on that kind of money. That kind of money, however, should be reserved for players that do more than role play.
The ability to take on overpriced contracts does not justify doing so.
Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski reports Cleveland already understands that a 27-year-old rebound machine alone is not worth consuming cap space while boosting a fellow conference opponent into contention:
The Cavaliers have no interest in Humphries, one of the league’s best rebounders, as they rebuild their roster with young talent, and would add him exclusively as a means to stockpile even more draft picks over the next few years.
Wojnarowski notes that Cleveland wants at least another first-round pick to come in the Humphries deal. ESPN's Chris Broussard also notes the team's desire for additional assets while naming Marshon Brooks as a key to the deal.
The Cavaliers already own a mountain of first-round picks. Acquiring even more in an NBA that treats draft picks like coupons seems odd at face value.
But it is unlikely that Cleveland is positioning itself to actually use all of those picks to draft a completely new roster of rookies. Instead, the Cavaliers seem to be stockpiling ammunition for multiple splashy trades in the future.
Acquiring Humphries does not give Cleveland a game-changing player now. If the team insists that he comes with plenty of extra trade bait, however, he will help the Cavaliers acquire that big fish later.