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The Nets will likely make another push for Howard if they can.
The Brooklyn Nets have jumped out of the gates 2-2 with wins over Toronto and Orlando and losses to Minnesota and Miami. In other words, they've beat the teams they are supposed to beat so far, and lost to both opponents that could be rendered better (though the Timberwolves only halfway fall into that category with both Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love on the shelf).
It's far too early to push the panic button in Brooklyn, especially after a .500 start, but looking at trade options is never a bad idea for the Nets. They face the Orlando Magic today (Sunday, Nov. 11), and they just beat the rebuilding Magic on Friday night.
So, if they win today and improve to 3-2, it is a winning record cushioned by the fact they have played the Magic twice and faced the Raptors. They won't have real tests in their schedule until they head out for a Western Conference road trip in a few days.
The Nets have a balanced scoring attack thus far, with star player Deron Williams averaging only 15.8 points per game, but have six players averaging double figures. The Nets have saddled themselves with a lot of salary, so making a move to clear cap room may make sense.
Quasi-GM and owner Mikhail Prokhorov may establish after another week or two that his current roster isn't good enough to win a championship (catharsis can be great, because it isn't).
Brook Lopez still doesn't rebound. Adding a rugged big man that would fortify the defense would help, but the problem is that Lopez's contract makes him very difficult to trade. Not all teams would have been willing to give a player like Lopez a max deal.
Could the Orlando Magic now decide that Lopez would be a good piece to build with and around? They have the trade exceptions to take on Lopez's contract without sending equal trade value out.
The Nets were willing to deal him for Howard, but could they realize that going a different direction at center may take their team to the next level?
Asking Kris Humphries to grab every rebound works in theory (or does it?), but centers are supposed to rebound the ball, and Lopez averages under six rebounds per game. The Nets could deal Lopez to Orlando for Gustavo Ayon and get another big man to fill Lopez' void for the rest of the season while using the cap room that the trade allows to sign a big man next summer.
They are aplenty. Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum and Al Jefferson are all free agents, and all are better than Lopez.
The Nets may have missed out on Howard with their first swing, but if the Lakers continue to struggle, Howard may rekindle his fire to become a Net. Bynum is a franchise center in his own right, and Al Jefferson is the best of the next tier of centers after Howard and Bynum.