Howard waiting game continues as Nets, Magic look to finalize trade
LAS VEGAS -- If LeBron James is losing sleep over the thought of a new super team being formed and threatening his new spot on the NBA throne, he wasn't about to admit Monday afternoon.
The Heat forward and recently-crowned champion couldn't have been more apathetic to the news that the Nets may be on the verge of finally landing Magic center Dwight Howard, never mind that the move would change the league's power structure yet again just two summers after James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh did just that by teaming up in Miami.
When asked if he had considered how Brooklyn team that would include Howard, Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace might stack up against the rest of the league, James simply said, "Nope." A second attempt to get James' assessment went nowhere as well.
But rest assured, the Nets will have plenty to say about the landscape of this league if this deal does, in fact, go down.
"We'd be one of the top teams in the East, for sure, and one of the top teams in the NBA," said Williams, who -- for obvious reasons -- was far more eager to discuss the deal. "It just depends on how everybody gels and comes together as a team, you never know (how good it'd be). It took Miami a year, losing in the Finals, and then this year they came out and were better. It'd be great. There's no doubt about it that (Howard) is one of the top five players in the world, and there's nobody like him in the NBA."
While the Knicks' signing of center Tyson Chandler last offseason was seen as an impactful move in New York, Howard to Brooklyn -- as even Chandler himself admitted Monday -- would be on a different level.
"They're already an incredible team," Chandler said of the Nets. "They already have to be looked at as a team that can definitely compete next year. With the addition of Joe Johnson, they have one of the best backcourts in the league in Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. Gerald Wallace is an incredible player. And they've got solid bigs, so as is right now they're a good team. And if they can pull off the other thing that's roaming around out there in the air, obviously it'll make them even better."
It remains to be seen if and when the deal will be done. Sources confirmed reports that the latest proposal would involve 12 players and up to four teams, with Cleveland joining the talks and the Clippers among the candidates to also be involved. As of Monday evening, however, a source close to the Clippers said they were "still mulling" whether or not to take part in the deal.
If all teams agreed to the blockbuster, it would be as follows:
• The Nets would receive Howard while agreeing to take back significant salary from the Magic in Jason Richardson (three years, $18.6 million remaining), Chris Duhon (two years, $7.6 million remaining) and Earl Clark (one year remaining at $1.2 million)
• The Magic would receive restricted free agent Brook Lopez (via sign-and-trade), Luke Walton, Damion James, Shelden Williams, Armon Johnson and three first-round picks (two from the Nets and a lottery-protected pick from the Clippers)
• The Cavaliers would get Kris Humphries (via sign-and-trade), Quentin Richardson, Sundiata Gaines and a first-round pick and $3 million from Brooklyn
• The Clippers would receive second-year guard MarShon Brooks
Yet given the number of teams and players, nothing is for certain just yet. What's more, the Humphries component could be the biggest obstacle to a possible deal.
The forward's agent, Dan Fegan,
"That's ridiculous," he said of Humphries, who averaged 13.8 points and 11.7 rebounds last season with the Nets. "I have not had one conversation about a one-year deal (for Humphries)."
No one could blame Humphries for not wanting to sign yet another short-term deal, as he signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Nets last season, in part, because of the team's desire to retain salary cap flexibility for when Howard would be a free agent this summer. Months later, however, Howard executed the option for the final year of his contract and remained in Orlando.
Meanwhile, the Lakers, Rockets, Mavericks and Hawks remain in talks for Howard and could still make a push so long as the Nets' deal isn't completed. Aside from Brooklyn, the Rockets may be making the strongest play for Howard after they made yet another move Monday night, reportedly agreeing to a sign-and-trade deal that would send center Marcus Camby to the Knicks.
Houston reportedly will acquire the expiring contracts of Jerome Jordan, Josh Harrelson and Toney Douglas as well as second-round picks in 2014 and 2015 in exchange for Camby, who was given a three-year, $13.2 million deal. It marked the latest move in which Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has netted the sort of assets that new Magic general manager Rob Hennigan is known to be coveting: draft picks and salary cap flexibility.