Nets now negotiating new deal with Lopez. Just in case.

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The Brooklyn Nets may be left without Dwight Howard. It’s in flux. Which is putting it very kindly.

What the Nets don’t want is to be left with nothing.

So they have picked up the pace in talks with their own free agents — Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries — reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The Nets have been engaged with Lopez’s representatives on a maximum contract extension, and if they feel like the possibility of acquiring Howard is slipping away, they’ll likely move to complete a deal with the restricted free agent in the next few days.

A max deal is overpaying for Lopez. Plain and simple. He’s good offensively when healthy — he averaged 19.2 points per game on 49 percent shooting and he can step out and stretch a defense, hitting 41 percent of his shots from beyond 16 feet last season. However, he’s a below average rebounder for the position and his defense needs work. He’s a young big who can score, he’s going to get paid, but a max is too much from where I sit.

The Nets also are negotiating with Humphries, Damion James and Shelden Williams.

Negotiations alert: If I were trying to light a fire under the Magic (or other teams in the trade mix) this is exactly what I would leak if I were the Nets.

That doesn’t make it any less real. Deron Williams is good with this, emphasizing again before Team USA’s practice in Las Vegas Tuesday that he is happy with the Nets as constructed and if they bring back Lopez he believes they can do a lot of damage in the East. He wouldn’t play the Dwight Howard speculation game.

The Magic are still trying to work a deal with the Nets, but Cleveland has pulled out and unless they can find a third team to replace them (the Bobcats are rumored but that is a hard sell) the two teams would have to figure out a straight up deal. And they haven’t been able to do that for a year now.