“I would expect a Dwight Howard trade this summer or before the next season starts, from what I’m hearing.”
These are the words of esteemed NBA Insider Ric Bucher during a chat with fans early this month when he also went on to say, “But from all I hear, Dwight is looking at LA or NJ. Nothing in between.”
It looks like it’s going to be a pretty eventful offseason for Nets fans as the Dwight Howard trade speculation sparks up.
Despite talk from numerous other teams interested in the Orlando Magic big man, New Jersey is primed to be the front-runner on his list and here are a few framework trade scenarios that could go down if the Nets make a strong push for Howard this summer.
In order for the New Jersey Nets to acquire Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic, a few “house keeping” moves need to be made within the Nets franchise.
First, they’d need to restructure some contracts in order to make space under their salary cap.
Both Jordan Farmar and Johan Petro would each have to slim down their three-year deals in order to make some money available now and same goes for Travis Outlaw and his five-year contract.
If any three of these guys couldn’t restructure their deal with the Nets, then they’d have to be brought up in trade conversations involving Brook Lopez as the centerpiece of the trade.
Lopez is a young, up-and-coming star that hasn’t reached his potential yet, but could certainly peak within the next few years, which is something that could be worthwhile enough for the Magic to part ways with Howard.
Lopez isn’t as good as Howard, let’s be honest, but that doesn’t mean Lopez isn’t as good as Howard yet.
There is no denying Lopez is talented, averaging 20.4 points and six rebounds in 2011; the question remaining is if the Magic would be willing to part with arguably one of the top-three players in the game for a developing big man.
There are not many roadblocks in the way of pounding this deal out, including contract negotiations on both sides.
As our expert Ric Bucher bluntly puts it in a heated exchange with Chris Broussard on ESPN.com, “The Nets would be able to put a package together featuring Brook Lopez for Howard, both of whom would be signed to contracts that fit under the new labor pact.”
Pretty much any way you look at a deal involving Dwight Howard, the Magic will want to get a big man in return from the Nets.
Seeing as New Jersey only plays with a few big men on their roster, the Magic may want to strike up a deal using forward Kris Humphries as a centerpiece.
Completing the lone year of a $3.2 million pact he made with the Nets last offseason, Humphries had a solid year off the bench, averaging 10 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Using the 2011 season as a strong point for re-signing Humphries, Al Ianazzone of the Bergen Record says of him, “I think this year’s been a great building year… obviously there’s going to be some additions and stuff like that, [but] it’s all going to hopefully come together in Brooklyn [for Humphries].”
Preparing his team for that move to Brooklyn, owner Mikhail Prokhorov may want to make a block-buster move as Ianazzone continues, “Humphries has proven his value to the Nets with his rebounding and toughness. But he could also be a valuable chip if the Nets try to acquire Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic.”
Despite GM Otis Smith being upfront about not considering trading Howard anytime soon, Humphries as the centerpiece plus a few key pieces thrown in to the mix could be just what both sides need to complete the transaction this summer.
Obviously, in any of these deals or any other deal either side draws up, a draft pick or two will have to be discussed.
New Jersey no longer has a lottery selection after forfeiting it to Utah in the Deron Williams trade, but they do have the 27th selection in the first round and the 36th pick in the second round which could be fair game.
While the Magic only the hold 53rd pick in either of the first two rounds, their pick could also be fair game to up the ante on New Jersey’s end.
Regardless, we may see picks from the 2011, ’12 or ’13 draft be used to put a deal over the edge and send Dwight Howard to Brooklyn in 2012.