A source has told RealGM columnist Jarrod Rudolph that the Brooklyn Nets are preparing to make a push to acquire Howard. Nets general manager Billy King was unsuccessful in his attempt to land the big man in 2012, but he is reportedly looking to make a new offer.
Brooklyn was in serious trade talks with the Orlando Magic last year. A deal centered around Brook Lopez was rumored to be almost completed, but the Magic ended up sending their superstar to Los Angeles in a four-way deal.
In the offseason, Howard expressed his desire to be sent to Brooklyn. He made it known that he wanted to contend for a title with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, but the Magic were unable to meet his request. Howard will be a free agent in the summer, but the Nets salary cap situation would make it nearly impossible for them to sign Howard.
The Lakers can offer Howard the most money in the offseason, and aren’t actively looking to deal the three-time Defensive Player of the Year. However, the team’s struggles this season might make them open to listening to potential offers. If L.A. misses the playoffs, which is a very likely possibility, Howard might decide to sign with a team like the Dallas Mavericks or Houston Rockets.
According to Rudolph, King was ready to make a three-team trade offer, before Kevin Love suffered an injury that will sideline him for eight to 10 weeks. The main components of the trade would send Brook Lopez to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Love to the Lakers and Howard to the Nets.
Minnesota would be reluctant to trade a healthy Love. However, they might think about it, considering Love’s public comments about possibly wanting to move to another team.
Acquiring a player of Love’s caliber could convince L.A. to trade Howard. At 17-24, Los Angeles has been a colossal disappointment, and the players are starting to question the construction of the team.
After the Lakers most recent loss to the Chicago Bulls, Kobe Bryant expressed his frustration about the team’s poor play.
“Obviously, this isn’t working,” Bryant told Yahoo! Sports.
Howard has complained about his role in the offense, feeling his lack of touches might be contributing to the team’s losses. In his past three games, the league’s leading rebounder has taken just 15 total field goals. If L.A. wants to make changes, the team’s best option might be to deal Howard.
Pau Gasol has often been the center of trade rumors. He’s having the worst season of his career, and has been relegated to the bench by Mike D’Antoni.
Because Gasol hasn’t played well, the Lakers would have a hard time getting equal value for the four-time All-Star. He’s owed over $19 million next season, and few teams will want to pay a center that much money, especially one that isn’t performing at a high level.
Love’s injury likely destroyed King’s original proposal, but Rudolph reports that the GM will continue to work towards making a deal happen. He will likely have to involve at least one more team, in order to complete any potential deal.
In his first season with the Lakers, Howard hasn’t played up to the level that many expected. His 17.1 points and 12.3 rebounds per game are his lowest since the 2006-2007 season.
The Lakers' troubles have been perhaps the most surprising storyline of the 2012-2013 NBA season. L.A. became the favorites to represent the West in the NBA Finals once the Howard trade was finalized. Now, there’s a good chance they won’t even make the playoffs.