Cavs drop out, Brooklyn Nets search elsewhere to land Howard

Cavs drop out, Brooklyn Nets search elsewhere to land Howard

(WOIO) - Courtesy,
Ken Berger, NBA Insider

The Brooklyn Nets are searching for another team to facilitate a trade for Dwight Howard or are looking to push the deal to the finish line without Cleveland after the Cavaliers dropped out of consideration as a trading partner, league sources told on Tuesday.

The Cavs, who were going to take Kris Humphries and other assets to maximize Orlando's cap savings, have been out of the mix since Monday, one person familiar with the negotiations said. It wasn't immediately clear whether it was the Cavs who decided not to involve themselves in the deal or Humphries' reluctance to accept a one-year guarantee in a sign-and-trade that stalled the multi-team arrangement.

A more likely scenario is that Orlando would prefer to receive all the draft picks exchanged in the trade, rather than having one of them go to Cleveland as compensation for taking Humphries, a person familiar with the talks said. Under the most recent construction of the trade, the Magic would receive three picks from the Nets and one from the Clippers, who would get MarShon Brooks from Brooklyn. By taking on Humphries in the deal, the Magic could wind up with five first-round picks -- the cornerstones of a ground-up rebuilding under new GM Rob Hennigan in the wake of Howard's departure.

The Nets, who already have assembled an All-Star backcourt of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, are pushing forward with the deal while simultaneously negotiating an extension for center Brook Lopez, who would go to Orlando if the teams complete the trade.

The NBA's moratorium on player movement concludes at 12:01 a.m. ET Wednesday, applying time pressure to the negotiations since several players involved would need to change teams via sign-and-trades. The Clippers were standing by Tuesday waiting to hear if their services would be needed to complete the deal, which would create another super team in a major NBA market by pairing Howard with Williams, Johnson and Gerald Wallace.

If the trade ultimately goes through, Howard would become the ninth member of the 12-player 2008 U.S. Olympic team to play in New York, Los Angeles or Miami. Seven members of this summer's U.S. Olympic squad call one of those cities their NBA home.

The Magic have continued dialogue with other teams throughout the process, including the Lakers, Rockets and Hawks, sources said. The Magic at no point ruled out other trade options for Howard, but sources said the organization was coming to the realization that the Nets could offer them the strongest package of picks and cap relief to begin the rebuilding process.

Players and other assets were going in and out of various trade scenarios Monday as the discussions advanced to the point where the Nets and Magic were initiating medical reviews for Howard (back) and Lopez (foot), respectively. Pending a positive review of Lopez's foot injury by Orlando's medical staff, the Magic have grown comfortable with Lopez being the key veteran player coming back in a Howard trade, sources said. Lopez would command at least $10 million a year in a sign-and-trade as part of the deal.

In fact, over the weekend, another team expressed interest in Lopez and stood ready to offer a package of draft picks for him in the event Orlando didn't want him, league sources told That team "couldn't get in the game," one of the sources said, a strong indication that the Magic "weren't selling" Lopez in the deal.

In its most recent iteration with Cleveland involved, the mammoth trade proposal looked like this:

* The Nets would have gotten Howard, Jason Richardson (owed $18.6 million over the next three seasons) and Earl Clark from the Magic.

* The Magic would have gotten Lopez, Shelden Williams, Damion James, Armon Johnson and three first-round picks from the Nets, plus Luke Walton from Cleveland.

* Cleveland would have gotten Humphries in a sign-and-trade, Sundiata Gaines, a first-round pick and $3 million from the Nets, plus Quentin Richardson from the Magic.

A possible replacement for Cleveland as the third team to facilitate the deal, Charlotte, was "not in the mix," a league source said Tuesday. "They never were," said another.

The assortment of first-round picks, millions in cap relief and a 7-footer and legitimate NBA starter in Lopez has struck the organization as their best chance to move forward with a plan to build through the draft the way Hennigan's mentor, Sam Presti, did inOklahoma City.