Report: Dwight Howard wants to be traded to Nets

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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.