Report: Dwight Howard to Be Traded to Nets from Hornets for Timofey Mozgov

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 20, 2018

Charlotte Hornets' Dwight Howard (12) kisses the basketball before the start of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, April 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Chuck Burton/Associated Press

The Charlotte Hornets and Brooklyn Nets are reportedly finalizing a deal to swap centers Dwight Howard and Timofey Mozgov, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

That Brooklyn sweetened the pot with two second-rounders and money for Charlotte to take on Mozgov makes sense, as the veteran center is set to make $16 million this season and $16.7 million in 2019-20, per Spotrac.com.

Those picks will include No. 45 overall in this year's draft and a 2021 second-round selection, per Wojnarowski.

The Nets will be Howard's fourth team in as many years. The 32-year-old center put up a solid effort for the Hornets last season, averaging 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game, though the eight-time All-Star is no longer the dominant force he was in his prime. 

It's certainly been an odd chapter in Howard's career: 

With the deal, the Nets have continued to prime themselves for next offseason. As ESPN.com's Bobby Marks noted, "With the Howard trade, only Allen Crabbe will have a guaranteed contract for the Nets in 2019-20. The Nets could potentially have up to $60 million-plus in room next summer but will be contingent on the restricted free agency of D'Angelo Russell and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson."

From Charlotte's perspective, the move takes them out of the luxury tax, per Marks:

Still, it's hard to ignore the irony that the man who signed Mozgov to his bloated deal two years ago with the Los Angeles Lakers, Mitch Kupchak, is now the man who acquired him once more as the general manager of the Hornets. 

Charlotte now holds the Nos. 11, 45 and 55 picks, giving it ammunition if it seeks to move up in the draft. And Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com reported the Cavaliers have reportedly inquired about Hornets point guard Kemba Walker. His acquisition would require a deal that would almost assuredly involve Cleveland's No. 8 pick.

Would Jordan Clarkson and No. 8 get it done for Walker? And would Walker's addition be the sort of move that might inspire LeBron James to remain with the Cavaliers? The Cavs could also sweeten the pot with younger players such as Larry Nance Jr., 25, or Cedi Osman, 23, though the deal only makes sense for Cleveland if James desires to play alongside Walker.

But Howard's trade could be the beginning stages of a rebuild in Charlotte, and absorbing Mozgov's salary for the next two seasons in exchange for draft picks makes more sense if Walker—who is set to be a free agent next summer and would demand major money to sign an extension—comes off the books.

The Hornets could also seek to move off veteran players such as Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams and Cody Zeller, though those contracts may be harder to move. Nonetheless, it looks as though it may be shaping up to be a busy, potentially transformative, summer in Charlotte.

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