Last week, it looked like Dwight Howard was headed to the Nets, until a potential deal fell apart.
This week, the center appeared to be on his way to the Lakers. Now, it seems like the current deal involving Howard might not get done either.
Los Angeles, Orlando and Cleveland have been working on a three-team trade that would send Howard to L.A. The Lakers would send Andrew Bynum to the Cavaliers and the Magic would get Anderson Varejao and draft picks from Cleveland. Jason Richardson or Hedo Turkogolu might also be included in a potential move.
The biggest obstacle in getting a deal done might be the contract status of Bynum. Since Orlando began shopping Howard, there have been questions about whether or not the All-Star would sign an extension with whatever team he's traded to. The potential of Bynum becoming a free agent might actually be the bigger issue.
According to Yahoo! Sports, Cleveland won't make a trade until Bynum assures them that he won't sign with another team next summer. Bynum will be a free agent after the 2012-13 Season.
Cleveland will only do the deal if Bynum extends, a league official told Yahoo! Sports.
Bynum emerged as perhaps the league's best center, besides Howard, last year. He averaged career highs with 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. The 24-year-old would give the Cavs a core of good young players, along with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. Cleveland doesn't want to lose him after just one season.
It might not be hard to convince Bynum to stay in Cleveland with such young talent, but there is little incentive for Bynum to commit to any team. Under the current rules of the NBA collective bargaining agreement, Bynum can sign a bigger contract by testing free agency. Whatever team he ends the season with can give him the biggest deal, but they wouldn't be able to offer it to him until the summer.
For the same reason, Howard is also unlikely to sign a new contract before 2013. On Thursday, it was reported that Howard would sign an extension with the Lakers if he's traded to them. While he's expected to stay in Los Angeles if dealt there, Howard's agent, Dan Fegan, announced that the Magic center will definitely test the free agent market.
Dwight's position has remained unchanged since the end of this past season, said Fegan. He fully intends to explore free agency at the end of next season, regardless of what team trades for him, including Brooklyn.
If Howard signs a contract right after he's traded, he won't be allowed to sign more than a three-year extension. If he waits until the summer, he can get a five-year deal worth $108 million from his new team.
The Rockets could potentially help facilitate a trade between the Magic and Lakers if the Cavaliers back out. Houston might be willing to acquire Bynum without any assurances from the big man. They have shown a willingness to trade for Howard with no contract extension in place.
The Mavericks, Rockets and Cavs are reportedly on the list of teams that Bynum would like to play for when his contract expires.