Evans Clinchy
Tuesday February 28th, 2012

While the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks remain contenders to land superstar center Dwight Howard before the March 15 NBA trade deadline, neither of the above are considered the favorite. That distinction now belongs to the New Jersey Nets, according to a report from SI's Sam Amick.

Amick writes that "nothing has changed" about Howard's outlook on being traded, and the Nets remain "far and away the leader" to land his services.

While the Lakers have been considered leading candidates for months to get Howard, sources told Amick that Kobe Bryant views Howard as nothing more than a second or third option on a championship team, which complicates things for the longtime alpha dog Howard. As for Dallas, it remains unclear whether Mark Cuban and the Mavs prioritize Howard or Nets point guard Deron Williams, and time is running out. Howard has had a dominant season for the Magic thus far, averaging 20.1 points, 15.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. Orlando currently sits fifth in the Eastern Conference at 22-13, 5.5 games behind the NBA-best Miami Heat.

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