What, you thought it was over? Or at least on hiatus? Nope. Everybody get ready to go around on the Dwight Howard carousel again.
The latest word: The Lakers are once again making a play.
According to Yahoo! Sports, the Lakers are "pushing hard" to land Howard and are meeting Tuesday with the Magic. All that's missing from actually consummating a deal is a contract extension commitment from Howard.
Obviously any deal involving the Lakers would almost assuredly include Andrew Bynum. But almost equally, Bynum is entering the final year of his deal as well and would likely have to consent to signing long-term in Orlando.
The three major players in the Howard sweepstakes appear to be the Lakers, the Nets and the Rockets, who are trying to put together an enticing package to please the Magic. The complication involved there is the pending contract situations of Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, along with the fact Howard hasn't expressed any interest in re-signing in Houston.
The Hawks are also said to be a potential darkhorse because Atlanta is Howard's hometown and he's pals with Josh Smith.
But while the Lakers obviously can put together a quality package, this isn't over for the Nets. It's the team Howard has expressed the most interest in and said he'd re-sign with. And while they're out of the picture until Jan. 15 when Brook Lopez can be traded, that doesn't mean they're out of the running.
John Hollinger of ESPN.com wisely points out that with Kris Humphries new two-year deal, the Nets have strategically put together a very tradeable roster for the Magic. The Magic would likely want to open up cap flexibility in a trade by unloading contract.
The Nets, with deals for Humphries, Reggie Evans and rookie Tyshawn Taylor, could take on the contracts of Glen Davis, Jason Richardson, Chris Duhon and Quentin Richardson. Those Orlando contracts add up to almost $19 million. With Humphries new deal along with Taylor and Evans, you guessed it, the Nets could perfectly fit that number into a trade. All while giving Orlando shorter contracts and flexibility.
Then you add Lopez and MarShon Brooks plus a few picks and you have a reasonable deal in the making. Not the best package the Magic could solicit, but something acceptable if Howard forces his way to Brooklyn.
But the Lakers are going to keep the conversation open if only because landing Howard is obviously extremely enticing to go with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash. It comes down to whether or not Howard would re-sign and until that's a guarantee, all of this just remains talk.
Round and round we go.