The NBA lockout is basically over. Free agency starts soon. The season tips off on Christmas Day.
Why so much talk about a non-free-agent player? It's due to the fact this isn't any player, it's Dwight Howard, the league's best center.
Howard plans to walk and join a new team after the season if the Orlando Magic fail to deal him prior to this year's trade deadline.
Magic GM Otis Smith and the organization would prefer to avoid a similar Carmelo Anthony fiasco that dragged throughout a major portion of last season.
The Los Angeles Lakers and New Jersey Nets have already shown serious interest in the disgruntled center. Sources with the Nets say they would offer a package surrounding young C Brook Lopez and two future first-round picks. Any Lakers' deal would most definitely start with C Andrew Bynum, but other pieces after that remain uncertain.
Quietly, the Dallas Mavericks have been mentioned in Dwight Howard trade rumors by ESPN's NBA analyst Ric Bucher. He states the three teams currently "in the mix" for Howard are the Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and New Jersey Nets.
Let's see how the reigning NBA champions have an opportunity to acquire 2012's most prized free agent—before this season begins.