In an effort to land Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard before he hits free agency in 2012, the New Jersey Nets will offer 23-year-old center Brook Lopez and two future first-round draft picks to the Magic in a trade proposal, report Chad Ford and Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Howard, the NBA's reigning Defensive Player of the Year for three years running, has been vocal in his desire to play in a larger market. The Nets, who are set to move to Brooklyn's brand-new Barclays Center in 2013, can certainly offer that, and potentially the opportunity to play alongside All-Star point guard Deron Williams, provided they can convince him not to bolt in free agency.
Ford and Stein report the Nets would also offer to absorb the contract of Hedo Turkoglu in the trade. The 32-year-old veteran has three years and more than $35 million remaining on his deal, initially signed with the Toronto Raptors in 2009. Taking Turkoglu would free salary-cap space for Orlando, which could fast-track its rebuilding process using Lopez, the two future first-round picks, and the cap space created by Turkoglu's departure. Waiving Gilbert Arenas using the amnesty clause in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement could free more cap space.
It's important to note that Orlando does not appear to be seriously entertaining offers for Howard yet. "Most rival teams, however, doubt that the Magic can be convinced to start seriously considering trade scenarios for Howard this early," report the ESPN duo. "Two team executives monitoring the situation told ESPN.com on Tuesday night that they expect Orlando to take a patient approach with what could be Howard's last year in town."
Lopez remains among the more promising center prospects in the NBA. The seven-footer owns career averages of 17.4 points per game in 34.2 minutes, along with 7.6 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, and 50.4 percent shooting from the field. As a bonus, he converts 80.1 percent of his free throws.
However, he struggled offensively in 2010/11, his first season under coach Avery Johnson. Though he averaged a career-best 20.4 points per game, he shot a career-low 49.2 percent from the floor and grabbed just six rebounds per game, eschewing the back-to-basket game in favor of drifting toward the perimeter for jumpers.
Howard's coming off an MVP-caliber campaign in which he played the league's best defense on one end while scoring 22.9 points on 59.3 percent shooting at the other.
Teams cannot begin making trades until December 9th, which is also the date training camp opens and free agency begins. The season itself starts December 25th, which ought to make for a frenzied, terribly interesting December.