Late Tuesday afternoon, rumors began to circulate that the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets were engaged in mildly interesting talks regarding Dwight Howard.
There were several scenarios floating around, but the most logical one had Howard landing in L.A., Andrew Bynum going to Houston, and Orlando ending up with draft picks plus cap relief. Everyone and anyone who was in the know about the talks prefaced their statements with a warning that this deal wasn’t anywhere close to being serious yet, and advised folks against thinking that there would be some sort of quick resolution.
They were right. Twelve hours later, here we are with no deal.
What’s the latest update? Well, it's complicated.
First, here is what David Aldridge of NBA.com had to say regarding the Lakers-Magic-Rockets trade (bold is mine, not his):
The Orlando Magic are talking to the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets in various trade scenarios involving Dwight Howard, according to league sources. However, a source directly involved in the discussions said Tuesday night that no deal involving Howard going to either team was likely at the moment — though the situation remains fluid and could re-heat at any moment.
Essentially, according to Aldridge, while it’s true that negotiations are taking place, said negotiations aren’t all that serious yet. Earlier today, Ken Berger of CBS Sports backed that assessment up:
As of yesterday, Lakers assured Bynum's camp, "Nothing's happening" on the trade front, a person close to the All-Star center said.
— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 11, 2012
Now, obviously it’s very possible that the Lakers would simply hold off on informing Bynum’s camp of what’s what until a deal was finalized; however, given the fact that loose lips have leaked every major deal that’s gone down over the past year, it’s sort of hard to believe that. More likely than not, they’re both probably just right about the talks not being in the advanced stages yet.
A couple of hours ago, reports began to surface that the Nets had laid out an ultimatum of sorts. They’d either do the Dwight deal today, or they’d simple re-sign Brook Lopez to a massive deal and go about their business. Via Ric Bucker of ESPN:
The Brooklyn Nets will "resolve" their pursuit of Dwight Howard on Wednesday, a league source said. And sources told ESPN.com's J.A. Adande that the Nets hope to have a resolution by 6 p.m. ET.
While that admittedly sounds very dramatic, Brooklyn’s newfound toughness really isn’t that big of a deal. No matter how you want to view this situation, they simple don’t have the pieces to put together a tantalizing enough trade offer for Howard. Plain and simple. And it’s also worth remembering that they pulled this same sort of move with Carmelo Anthony two years ago, only to re-engage in negotiations when they thought they had a shot at him. It's a bluff.
Finally, there’s also the darkhorse team that could theoretically give Orlando the best package possible for Howard. Via Marc Stein of ESPN:
Hawks, I'm told, still think they're alive in Dwight trade chase. With plenty of pieces to offer and Josh Smith to lobby Howard to stay
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 11, 2012
So, all that said – where are we now? Pretty much exactly where started. Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski put it best half an hour ago:
To be clear on Magic, they remain in talks with several teams, including the Nets, Rockets, Lakers and assuredly more.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 11, 2012