Sources tell Bucher that Nets general manager Billy King will meet with the team's current center, Brook Lopez, to discuss a new deal. From there, he will either be sent to the Magic today or Brooklyn will move on.
It's just the latest twist in the seemingly endless drama involving Howard, who has been the focus of trade banter since prior to the deadline last season. Still, the Magic haven't yet found a deal they liked enough to deal him.
It will be interesting to see if the ultimatum will cause the Magic to change their stance. Orlando's front office has shown no sense of urgency at any point during the process, even though Howard continues to seek an exit and has a contract that expires after next season.
With other teams in the Eastern Conference, including the defending champion Miami Heat, getting better on a daily basis, the Nets can't afford to wait if they have any hope of competing next season. So their views are no surprise.
Howard averaged 21 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks per game last season. He's one of the most talented post players in the league and would be an immediate upgrade over Lopez, who still has several flaws despite his scoring ability.
What team will Howard start next season with?
The Rockets were originally linked to Howard before the NBA draft, when they were attempting to stockpile picks. The team does have a hole in the middle that needs to get filled before next season, making it understandable that they would take a chance.
Los Angeles has been looking to make changes to a lineup that clearly became stagnant last season. The Lakers have already added Steve Nash to the mix. Picking up Howard would be another step toward getting Kobe Bryant another ring.
The trade picture should be a lot more clear by day's end.