The New Jersey Nets have been billed by many as the likely landing place for Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard, but the Magic appear hesitant to accept Nets center Brook Lopez as the primary piece in return.
The Orlando Sentinel's Brian Schmitz reported on Tuesday that the Magic don't really want Brook Lopez in Dwight deal, but even decent big men are tough to find. Schmitz added that the Magic need assets in any deal for Howard, but that Lopez's cheap contract was enticing.
The Nets have dangled Lopez and a slew of first-round draft picks at the Magic since before the season began, but the Magic have held strong on wanting to keep Howard. Lopez has shown promise in his four seasons in the NBA, but has missed the bulk of the 2011-12 season due to a broken bone in his right foot.
Howard's indicated a desire to be traded to a specific list of teams, including the Nets, but it's anyone's guess as to whether the Magic will actually move the star before the NBA's trade deadline on March 15. The New York Post reported this week that the Nets could land Howard in a three-team deal that would send Lopez to Golden State and Monta Ellis to Orlando, which might be more enticing to a Magic team that would be desperate for star appeal minus Howard.
The Nets would love to pair Howard with star point guard Deron Williams ahead of free agency in order to convince Williams to sign a long-term deal with the organization, but they are one of a handful of teams strongly pursuing Howard.
The Lakers are considered to be the other major contender for Howard, but the New York Post's Peter Vescey reported on Sunday that the Magic had rejected an offer of Andrew Bynum for Howard. The Lakers have had Bynum and center Pau Gasol on the trade block all season - notably including Gasol in the failed Chris Paul trade - but the Magic continue to remain steadfast about not dealing Howard for a less than extraordinary deal.
ESPN's Magic Johnson has hinted recently that the Lakers would likely add another important piece to the puzzle to complement Kobe Bryant, but it's unclear whether the Lakers have enough to offer the Magic for Howard -- or whether they'd have enough depth leftover to compete in the competitive Western Conference with a depleted roster.
The Dallas Mavericks are another team that is believed to be very interested in Howard, but would likely have to wait until the off-season to have any chance to land the talented big man.