Rockets, Lakers re-emerge in Dwight Howard sweepstakes

AP Photo/DayLifeThe Magic’s talks with the Nets have seemed to wind their course. The Cavaliers backed out of the reported three or four-team deal and have left the Magic and the Nets dealing with each other for Dwight Howard. It is no secret Howard wants to end up in Brooklyn, but Brooklyn lacks many of the assets to trade with Orlando directly — thus the complex monster of a trade Brooklyn was proposing.

Brooklyn appears ready to move on. Several reports have the Nets getting nearer to an agreement on a near-maximum contract for center (and trade centerpiece) Brook Lopez. That would effectively kill a deal with Orlando as Orlando is looking for cap relief and short-term contracts to rebuild. Even though the Magic have shown a great interest in Lopez, it is believed they do not want to make that rich of a commitment to him — and it was never clear whether Lopez wanted to commit to Orlando.

The Magic appear to be moving on too.

Late Tuesday, reports surfaced that Orlando was reviewing several potential trade scenarios with Houston and was still talking with the Lakers and Atlanta about a possible Howard trade. The most surprising rumor had the Lakers acquiring Howard, the Rockets acquiring Andrew Bynum and the Magic receiving draft picks and cap-friendly contracts.

It is a somewhat “out there” deal as the Magic would not receive a center replacement in such a deal. However, they would receive the first round pick the Rockets will receive from the Raptors for Kyle Lowry and potentially a few rookie-scale contracts. The reported deal would also see the Magic send away albatross deals like Jason Richardson and Chris Duhon.

What Orlando would receive appeared to be the hangup in the Brooklyn mega trade. The Magic want young players and cap flexibility. While the Nets were able to find places for many of the Magic’s bad contracts, they could not offer the Magic the same type of draft picks and young players a team like the Rockets can. Ultimately, that appears to have killed the Brooklyn deal as Orlando was not ready to commit max money to Brook Lopez.

AP Photo/DayLifeIt has been no secret that the Rockets would not mind renting Dwight Howard for a year and want to restart their franchise some. They have been a dark horse in the Howard sweepstakes even dating back to last year’s trade deadline. It appears Houston is driving this trade now and is presenting Orlando with several scenarios — some that do include the Lakers and others that would be between just the two teams — to make something happen.

The key is Orlando wants a situation where they can rebuild quickly — either by having a strong team coming out of the trade or a lot of assets and draft picks that could help create a sustainable rebuilding project. This is where Houston has a big advantage over Los Angeles and over Brooklyn.

The Magic appear more ready to move on than they have in the past. The Dwight Howard trade is going to happen at some point, but many have assumed Orlando was not working on any strict deadline.

However, it appears clearer now that the Magic are not going to get the “perfect deal” and are looking more for the best deal possible. Speculation is rising that a deal will get done sooner rather than later.

A source told Colin Stephenson and Dave D’Alessandro of the Newark Star Ledger that Wednesday (the first day teams can officially sign players and make moves) is “D-Day” for a few teams and that Orlando will have to make a move. Similarly, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel was on 740 AM in Orlando and said he believes a trade will happen by the end of the week.

In either case, the “Dwightmare” appears close to its conclusion in Orlando.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily