The New Jersey Nets are indeed confident they are the top choice of Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, a free-agent-to-be in the summer of 2012, and are preparing for the inevitability of Orlando deciding to trade him prior to the March 15 deadline, reports Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. Keeping Howard beyond the trade deadline is far too risky for Orlando, which could then lose Howard for nothing during free agency. As such, Nets GM Billy King "is already working, constructing, as he did in the pursuit of Carmelo Anthony a year ago, possible three- and four-team trade scenarios to pitch" to the Magic when the time is right. King is known throughout the league for his ability to orchestrate complicated, multi-team transactions.
King is under pressure, according to Mannix, even though his team is Howard's top choice, because he knows other teams can make Orlando more competitive offers than the Nets can at present.
Howard is highly motivated to play with the Nets, Mannix says, because he'd relish the chance to play with Deron Williams, an All-Star point guard and close personal friend. Williams "would have no issue relinquishing the spotlight and allowing Howard to be the team's alpha dog," Mannix says, another factor influencing Howard's preferences.
Moreover, Howard "wants to be courted, wants to be wooed," and New Jersey is eager to accommodate him. When the Magic played the Nets in New Jersey on Wednesday night, displays showing off the Nets' new arena in Brooklyn, the Barclays Center, were arranged conspicuously in the hallway outside Orlando's locker room. The Magic pounded the Nets, 108-91.