It is finished, almost.
Dwight Howard trade rumors have been pointing in a countless number of directions for years. Today, they’re still swirling at an equally deceptive pace.
While no one truly knows where D12 will land at this point, one thing is for certain: his time as a memeber of the Orlando Magic is running out—rapidly. If he isn’t dealt by the end of today, it would be an absolute shock. Of course, how many times have you heard that before?
Here are all the latest rumblings with links to each possible landing spot and predictions where he’ll ultimately touch down.
Rumor has it that your pain—or excitement if you find the roller-coaster ride thrilling—is primed to come to an end.
Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops reported that, according to a source, you should keep your eyes glued to your Twitter feed all day long. He tweeted:
Source on Dwight Howard trade: "It's all coming to a head." Translation: He's being dealt somewhere today.— Chris Sheridan (@sheridanhoops) July 11, 2012
Dwight Howard has been linked to (get ready for this) the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers and plenty of other teams that are likely slipping my mind.
Despite the multitude of competitors, only a few of them have been driven out of the race. One, though, should finally distance themselves from the pack today.
Here are the teams that will either emerge or falter in the D12 sweepstakes.
LA has been at the forefront of Dwight Howard rumors since they began to swirl. Today, they’re still there.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports reported that the Lakers are one of the teams gaining momentum against the favorite Nets to deal for Howard’s services.
According to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles has become more willing to take one of the Magic’s bad contracts in Hedo Turkoglu or Jason Richardson in any swap.
Throw in the fact that David Aldridge of NBA.com reported the Lakers aren’t even fully confident in their ability to re-sign Andrew Bynum next summer, and it looks like all signs are pointing to Hollywood.
Not so fast, though.
Aldridge also noted a trade to the Lakers was still unlikely at this point.
If you’re a Lakers fan and have been following every rumor since Howard was originally linked to LA, your trust of “sources” has to have disappeared by now. Howard-to-Los Angeles has looked like a lock on an endless amount of occasions, and it’s seemed dead just as many times.
When it’s all said and done, though, you have to believe if Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak want Howard in purple and gold, he’ll be there. Even after trading for Steve Nash, they still have the most to offer in Bynum.
While fans are terrified of Howard departing in free agency, plenty of question marks surround both him and Bynum. Buss and Kupchak just have to decide which player has the least amount of question marks.
That single decision will shape the NBA for years to come.
Believe it or not, Houston is still hanging in there.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that H-Town—surprisingly—hasn’t given up hope that Howard will be a Rocket next season. He tweeted:
Rockets remain strongly engaged w/ Orlando in direct talks for Dwight Howard, sources tell Y! They've spent little time on 3-way scenarios.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 11, 2012
If the Rockets outflank the Lakers and Nets, it would be one of, if not the biggest upset in NBA offseason history (if anyone is really keeping tabs on such a thing).
Houston never had a mouth-watering package to offer, and now they’ve traded Kyle Lowry to the Toronto Raptors, their assets are even less appealing.
All the Rockets are capable of shipping to Orlando is future draft picks and a smorgasbord of prospects selected in the mid-to-late first round that include Jeremy Lamb, Terrence Jones, Royce White, Marcus Morris and Donatas Motiejunas.
If the Magic trade Dwight—a superstar—for a handful of players that have done absolutely nothing in the NBA, Richard DeVos should fire his GM, again.
The Atlanta Hawks have been a sleeper to end the Dwightmare all along and—unsurprisingly—they are still awake and in the middle of things during the crunch time of it.
Marc Stein of ESPN reported the Hawks still have their sights set on Howard and believe they have the ammo to not only reel him in, but persuade him to sign a long-term extension. He tweeted:
Hawks, I'm told, still think they're alive in Dwight trade chase. With plenty of pieces to offer and Josh Smith to lobby Howard to stay— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 11, 2012
Atlanta, unlike Houston, is a legitimate threat to steal Howard from the Nets. Al Horford is better than Brook Lopez so I don’t know why ATL hasn’t received more hype. They also have Jeff Teague to include in any offer—who just happens to be a more promising player than MarShon Brooks.
Josh Smith, who Stein mentioned in his report, is Howard’s best friend. If any player in the league is capable of convincing him to sign a long-term deal, it’s Smith. Oh yeah, and Atlanta is Howard’s hometown.
Los Angeles can provide the Magic with the most talent, but the Hawks are still in position to not only give Orlando a respectable offer, but be confident in their ability to re-sign Howard.
What’s more likely? D12 resists the bright lights of Hollywood or spurns his hometown and his best friend?
Honestly, with how jacked up Howard has revealed his head is over the past few months, I can’t answer that question. But in all seriousness, don’t be shocked if it’s the Hawks.
Dwight Howard is the Nets’ to lose—or at least he was.
In other news, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports also reported that the Nets and Brook Lopez are close to agreeing to a max deal.
If Lopez were to sign, though, he couldn’t be traded until December. And according to David Aldridge of NBA.com, talks between the Nets and Magic have been “quiet” as of late.
But he did note they’re still the only team Howard has said he’d re-sign with.
If the Nets blow this, their fans will be in for a long, painful year. Brooklyn dealt for Joe Johnson to keep their hopes for Deron Williams alive, which ultimately kept their hopes for Howard alive. Now, though, all signs are pointing away from the Nets.
But still, the fact that they’re the only team Howard has expressed interest in will keep them in the hunt until the clock strikes midnight. They’re the only team that can be 100 percent confident about him signing a long-term contract.
If Brooklyn had more to offer than a one-trick pony center and a 23-year-old shooting guard prospect, Howard would’ve been traded there months ago.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.