Star center Dwight Howard is the biggest trade and free-agent topic out there.
Many people have Howard, 25, going to the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers or Boston Celtics. However, the New Jersey Nets could be a dark-horse destination for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.
If Howard plays out his contract and enters free agency next season, the Nets (who will actively pursue him) provide Howard with a few intangibles that other teams cannot provide him.
1) The franchise will move to Brooklyn for the 2012-13 season and play in a brand new arena. The move will give the Nets a broader and renewed fanbase that will help the struggling franchise rebuild its financial base.
2) The Nets have a billionaire owner, Russian businessman Mikhail Prokhorov, who really wants to win and will do anything for it. Prokhorov's team is $22 million under the current cap for 2012-2013, and they have less money committed than the Bulls ($7.5 million) and Lakers (about $2 million) have without counting their pending contract extensions.
3) New Jersey has a young core of players while both the Celtics' and Lakers' cores are aging. The Nets have All-Star point guard in Deron Williams, 27, and a strong center in Brook Lopez, 23. For the Lakers, Kobe Bryant (33) and Pau Gasol (31) are starting to show their age. Boston's stars Kevin Garnett (35), Ray Allen (36) and Paul Pierce (33) are not getting any younger.
With the Nets, Howard will have a strong point guard in Williams and Lopez would probably switch to power forward. Giving Williams a one-two frontcourt scoring punch in Howard-Lopez would make the Nets one of the league's most prolific offenses.
Williams would be the best point guard to pair up with Howard to increase his offensive output. Each year, Howard's offensive game has improved, despite having Jameer Nelson as his point guard in Orlando. Williams is arguably the league's best point guard and will help Howard to continually progress offensively.
Chicago's Derrick Rose is prone to turnovers. Boston's Rajon Rando is overrated. Chauncey Billups will not be re-signed by New York and they are actively going after injury-riddled Chris Paul. Los Angeles does not have any point guard of note.
If Howard wants to be "The Man" with his new team, the Nets are his team. The Bulls have Rose. Boston has Pierce. New York has both Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony and Los Angeles will always be Kobe's team.
Building a lasting legacy could also be important for Howard, as he could be bring the Nets their first-ever NBA title and become a legend. Howard's other suitors have multiple championships and established superstars in team lore.
If the trade deadline comes and goes without the Magic trading Howard, the four-time All-NBA First Team selection will have his pick of the litter, and the Nets could surprisingly offer him what he wants.