There's no reason to believe that anything running around right now is actually any kind of fact, especially when you look at exactly what's going on surrounding the Nets and the rumors connecting Howard to them.
To get this straight out of the chute, the rumor comes from a conversation between Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco on Feb. 14 in which Smith talked about a "reliable source" that gave him a bit of info about Dwight:
I had a reliable source tell me this, Dwight Howard will categorically deny it, but I trust my source, when they were playing Toronto recently, he sat there on the court and told Rudy Gay, "You messed up bad man. You should have waited and ended up with me in Brooklyn next year."
That's totally believable, if only the actual facts surrounding the rumor had any kind of ground to stand on.
Smith says that Howard talked to Gay while they were playing in Toronto recently. The only problem is that the last time the Los Angeles Lakers played in Toronto was on January 20. You know, nearly two weeks before Gay was ever a member of the Raptors.
So, unless the two were playing in a rec-league game against the guys from The Basketball Jones, something tells me that Stephen A. Smith is talking out of the wrong hole again.
Just for a second, however, let's pretend that there is some truth to this rumor and Howard wants to make his way onto the Brooklyn Nets after the end of the season.
Let's take a look at the financial situation in Brooklyn.
The Nets are already on the hook for $89 million next season, while Dwight Howard's maximum salary for 2013-14 is going to be right around $20 million.
Los Angeles could potentially turn around and trade Howard for something along the lines of Brook Lopez and a trade exception, but that would leave the Nets hovering above the $90 million mark.
That's no problem, right? Mikhail Prokhorov has no problem paying the luxury tax, he's got roughly $754 katrillion.
Unfortunately for the Nets, 2013-14 is the first season in which teams cannot acquire a player via sign-and-trade if they're more than $4 million above the luxury tax level.
This season's luxury tax is set at just over $70 million, and next year's mark is expected to be on the rise, but how high will it rise?
2013-14 luxury tax estimates have thrown around the $72 million mark here and there, but we won't know an exact number until the 2012-13 basketball-related income is determined, at which point the tax level can be set.
At this point, we would be looking at the Nets somehow shaving nearly $20 million off their 2013-14 payroll in order to come anywhere near able to trade for Howard.
So, which impossible-to-trade contract are they going to ship away? Gerald Wallace getting paid $10 million a year through 2016, Joe Johnson getting paid over $20 million a year through 2016, or both?
The odds are slim to none, and slim is busy trying to get himself traded to the Brooklyn Nets.
Larry Coon, the NBA CBA superhero that we need right now, goes deep into what it would take to get that trade to go down, equating the chances to that of winning the lottery.
Mr. Coon is forgetting one thing, however. There is an extremely simple route to getting Howard to Brooklyn. He simply has to sign for the mini mid-level exception.
There you have it. Howard can easily play in Brooklyn, if he's down to play for about $3 million next season.
I'm not one to believe any kind of the Dwight Howard trade rumors until he's drawing a paycheck from a new team, and that's not something that seems to be likely until this season ends—at the very soonest.
Once again, imagining some fantasy world where Stephen A. Smith's sources are more than the echo that he hears when he's yelling in the shower, what would this mean about Howard and what he's learned in the past year?
In short, absolutely nothing.
It would mean that Howard is still the same immature person that he was a year ago, still looking for the exit before his team has fully crashed and burned.
It would mean that perhaps Howard isn't the guy you want leading your team.
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