Dwight Howard Brook Lopez

Report: Dwight Howard wants to be traded to Nets


We can only speculate if David Stern stepping in at the behest of the owners to nix the Chris Paul trade had anything to do with it, but apparently Dwight Howard isn’t thinking Lakers.

He’s thinking Brooklyn New Jersey Nets. He’s thinking Deron Williams.

Howard wants to be traded to the Nets and will tell the Magic this, reports Chris Broussard of ESPN.

Dwight Howard is preparing to ask the Orlando Magic to trade him to the New Jersey Nets, according to sources close to the situation. Howard’s representatives have told the Nets that they are his preferred destination….

As ESPN.com reported last week, the Nets are ready to offer the Magic a package built around center Brook Lopez and two first-round draft picks, New Jersey’s own and one the Nets acquired from Houston in a previous trade, according to sources. If necessary, New Jersey is also willing to take back Hedo Turkoglu and the three years, $34 million remaining on his deal.

The past few days there has been little movement on the Howard trade front as he did not tell the Magic his plans, so they ramped up efforts to get another star player and keep Howard in Orlando. If Howard goes up to GM Otis Smith and says he will not sign a new deal with the team, Smith will have no choice but to move him.

But would the Lakers have a better offer than the Nets? The Lakers would have a deal that is essentially Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom for Howard and Turkoglu. That gives the Magic Bynum — who most people around the league prefer to Lopez because Bynum has a higher ceiling — and helps take a bad contract off the Magic’s books.

But after what the league did with Chris Paul, can the Magic deal with the Lakers or are they gun-shy.

Howard is in a very different situation than Paul (even if he wanted to go to the Lakers). For one, Orlando has an owner. It’s easy for Dan Gilbert, Mark Cuban and other owners to say the league-owned Hornets should not deal with the Lakers, but if the same owners tried to say something about an Orlando trade with the Lakers the Magic ownership could and would fight back.

What is more, you could not kill the Howard/Bynum deal on basketball grounds because the Nets do not have a better offer. You can debate which one is better and make a case for the Nets, but nobody sane would argue the Lakers is a much worse trade. (Then again, they might say the same thing about the Paul to Lakers trade and it got axed.)

If Howard wants to go to the Nets to team with Deron Williams and be in Brooklyn next year, there is some logic to that. Big market, owner with deep pockets who wants to win. If that is the only place he will sign to remain the Nets have no choice (nobody is going to trade big assets in the hope Howard stays).

The Chris Paul situation shouldn’t impact the Dwight Howard trade scenario. Shouldn’t. But after the league used a hammer on the Los Angeles Lakers, which may well make teams gun-shy.

Kevin Love unsure about opening-night return

Kevin Love
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He’s back in practice with the Cavaliers, but there’s still no clarity on whether Kevin Love will be available for the season opener. Love had shoulder surgery in April after suffering a torn labrum in Game 4 of the Cavs’ first-round series against the Celtics, and doctors initially gave him a timetable of four to six months for a return. The six-month end of that is right around opening night (October 27), but Love still doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play against the Bulls—although he is hopeful.

Via the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney:

“I feel pretty good,” Love told Sporting News. “As far as the opener goes, I am not completely sure. I’ll probably get with the doctors and see what they have to say. I know that my six-month post-op is coming up here pretty fast. As far as getting the strength back, getting the range of motion, I feel pretty good, so I am looking forward to getting into some more contact, getting into a rhythm and getting out there as quickly as I can.”

Love has been cleared for 3-on-3 practices, but not yet for 5-on-5. If it were up to him, he’d be back on the court, but he understands he needs to follow the rehab protocol for his injury.

“(Six months is) just a ballpark figure that has generally been thrown out there by anybody who has talked about the rehab process for this kind of an injury,” Love said. “I like to think that I am ahead of the game, but there’s different tests and the due diligence that the doctor will go through and the training staff will go through. So all I can do is go out there every day and attack my rehab and hopefully I will be able to go out there and help these guys as soon as possible.”

At the very least, the Cavs will be without Kyrie Irving (still recovering from knee surgery) and Iman Shumpert (out up to three months with a wrist injury), and probably Tristan Thompson too, unless his contract situation changes unexpectedly. So having Love available would be some much-needed good news. But it’s more important that Love (and everyone else) is healthy for the playoffs. If he’s not ready to play, there’s no need to rush back for an October game.

Greg Smith fails physical, will not join Pelicans

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With both starter Omer Asik and backup Alexis Ajinca out injured for the rest of the preseason (and maybe a little longer), the Pelicans are looking for a center to put next to Anthony Davis for a stretch. That could include a handful of regular season games.

Greg Smith was going to be that man, but the 24-year-old failed his physical, reports the Times-Picayune.

The New Orleans Pelicans were set to sign power forward Greg Smith, but sources said Friday night that he failed his physical examination and will not be joining the team.

And so the search goes on.

The problem is, there are not quality big men still out there on the market, there is a limited supply and just about anyone worth having is spoken for. A few with non-guaranteed contracts may be waived as we get closer to the end of training camps, but that is likely a couple of weeks away.

With both Asik and Ajinca expected back in a few weeks, it’s not worth making a trade or some big move to bring in a center, the Pelicans are just going to have to live with what is out there.