Barring something totally unforeseen happening between now and next year, Dwight Howard will begin the 2013-14 season as a member of the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers or Brooklyn Nets.

Last week, Howard met with Orlando Magic GM Rob Hennigan in what has been described as a largely pointless meeting for all involved. Hennigan tried to sell his squad’s disgruntled big man on the idea of staying with Orlando, but Howard made it abundantly clear that one way or another, he wasn’t interested in reconciliation.

About 24 hours after that meeting ended, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Howard basically told Hennigan this: Orlando could trade him now to the Lakers, trade him in January to the Nets or watch him walk away right into Mark Cuban’s outstretched arms next summer.

While Howard’s on-and-off flirtation with Brooklyn and L.A. had been well documented up to this point, his sudden enthrallment with Dallas caught some off guard. Would he seriously go there, or was it all just a bluff to put pressure on Hennigan?

Orlando is betting on option No. 1, apparently.  As reported by Mike Fisher:

Mavs GM Donnie Nelson and Magic GM Orlando GM Rob Hennigan visited last week about a Dwight Howard trade and "will probably talk again,'' Nelson tells FOXSportsSouthwest.com.

Meanwhile, FOXSportsSouthwest.com has learned that Nelson and Hennigan visited last week about a Dwight Howard trade. But …

"There's just not much there (in terms of a Mavs-Magic trade to be done in 2012),'' Nelson tells us.

So if there isn’t much there, then that must mean that Dallas will work on a deal with L.A. or Brooklyn, right?

Yeah, not so much. Per the same report:

And in their minds, offers from the Nets and Lakers -- offers that went very public and therefore were portrayed as "close'' — were also "bad.''

What’s the Magic’s endgame here? It’s tough to say. Are they really just going to start the 2012-13 season with Howard on their roster, and then try to deal him to Brooklyn in January? That’s increasingly beginning to seem like the most likely option.

Look at it this way: if they had wanted to deal with L.A., Orlando could have done so by now. Dallas lacks the pieces to make a trade for Howard work. The Houston Rockets, for whatever reason, are apparently out of contention.

Who does that leave?

The Nets.

Get more NBA news and rumors on Twitter: @agroberman

(Kudo Fox Sports)

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