A few months after the Dwight Howard trade saga mercifully reached a conclusion, the floodgates are about to open again.
This time around, the Brooklyn Nets should steer clear of the deluge.
He figured to join an unstoppable starting lineup that would destroy the competition on its way to a championship or two. Then he would surpass Kobe Bryant as the face of the franchise when the veteran decided to hang up his jersey.
Instead, the stumbling Lakers are dangerously close to missing the postseason, sitting 12th in the Western Conference at 17-24.
The Lakers possess four stars and 41 remaining games, but Bryant was the only one who played like a star during the first 41.
So cooler heads will prevail, nobody will panic and the Lakers will eventually find their stride, right?
Of course not.
As painful as this is to say, it's time to turn the Dwight Howard rumor mill back on.
Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported that the Lakers "might be forced to reconsider" their stance of not shopping Howard before the Feb. 21 trade deadline.
Sources say that Howard, as the Lakers' struggles have mounted, has dropped hints within team circles about his discomfort in D'Antoni's system and that he could consider moving on if things don't improve or change.
According to Shelburne and Stein, Howard has become disgruntled in Los Angeles, prompting the front office to fear the possibility of losing him in exchange for nothing when he hits free agency in July.
During the offseason, the Nets figured prominently in the Howard sweepstakes. The franchise desperately wanted to make another splash to hype up its move to Brooklyn, and Howard expressed interest in playing there.
So now that the Lakers might consider trading him in the next month, will the Nets bite again and make another push at landing him?
The mega-package previously offered to Orlando centered around Brook Lopez, who has played All-Star caliber basketball so far. The 24-year-old center is averaging 18.5 points on 51.7 percent shooting, 7.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game.
While Lopez is not the same defensive force in the paint as Howard, Howard also isn't the same defender that he once was. Still recovering from a back injury, Howard no longer scares off the opposition from driving down the lane.
At this point, there's not enough of a disparity between the two to justify the Nets also sacrificing first-round picks, MarShon Brooks and more.
According to the New York Daily News, the Nets agree. Management is backing Lopez and has not reached out to the Lakers about Howard.
After winning nine of its last 10 games, Brooklyn should not let the promise of Howard cut off its momentum.
But a off week could tempt a front office that swings for the fences to reconsider its stance.
Howard could come for their hearts by declaring his love for Brooklyn, so it's probably too soon to close the book on this story just yet.
It certainly seems like the Nets dodged a bullet by missing out on Howard last summer. Let's hope they don't go crawling back to him again.
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