Jul 8, 2012, 7:00 PM EST
Which means Dwight Howard rumors are picking up steam, fast. How much steam depends on who you ask — some sources sugest the deal could be done as soon as Monday, but there are a who lot of moving parts (maybe 11 players plus picks and three teams) and those kind of deals fall apart much faster than they come together.
The Brooklyn Nets — Howard’s preferred destination — have needed a third team to come in and take the soon-to-be-bloated sign-and-trade contract of Kris Humphries to make a deal with Orlando work (the Magic would take Brook Lopez and his soon-to-be bloated contract, plus a boatload of picks). They are making progress on that front, according to both Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (also seen on the NBC Sports Network ) and this from Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.
Cleveland has emerged as a “possible destination” for Humphries in such a scenario, in which the Nets would attempt to accumulate at least three first-round picks to send to the Magic in their package for Howard, one of the sources said.
The Cavs have as many as six first-round picks in the next three drafts — three of them from previous trades, with various levels of protection. However, with cap space to sign Humphries as a free agent, getting Humphries alone wouldn’t provide any incentive for Cleveland to surrender one of those picks.
Front office folk in the East didn’t think any team in that conference would be willing to help Brooklyn create a another “big three” — Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Dwight Howard. But we all may have underestimated Chris Grant, the Cleveland GM who made reaches in the last two drafts the Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters (to be fair, we should wait until those guys don’t live up to the No. 4 pick status before calling them reaches).
The Lakers are not out of this, but they have more hurdles to a deal and it seems to be falling apart. First, Los Angeles likes Andrew Bynum and acting owner Jim Buss would prefer to sign Bynum to an extension and win with his guy. Second, Howard has consistently said he would not sign an extension in Los Angeles, and while the Lakers are confident if he played in L.A. he would change his mind that is a massive risk to take. Finally, why would Orlando trade one unpredictable big man in the last year of his contract for Bynum, an unpredictable big man in the last year of his contract? Bynum is supposed to be interested in Dallas, Houston and other teams if he leaves Los Angeles, but there has been no mention of him wanting to play in Orlando (although, to use his phrase, they do have banks in Orlando).
But the Nets appear to be he front runners. Pulling off a three-team deal to get Howard to Brooklyn is far from easy and not yet where you should even call it likely. But things are picking up steam fast.
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