One of the biggest obstacles involving a trade that would send Dwight Howard to the Lakers no longer appears to be an issue.
Since the season ended, Howard has insisted that he would only sign a contract extension with the Nets. The center has one year left on his contract and some teams have been hesitant to trade for him because of his unwillingness to sign a long-term deal. Now, it appears that Howard has changed his mind.
ESPN's Chris Broussard is reporting that Orlando hasn't told L.A. that Howard would sign a new contract, but two sources tell Broussard that he would to commit to the franchise.
Even if Howard doesn't give the Lakers any assurances, they would still likely pull the trigger on a deal. ESPNLosAngeles.com reported on Tuesday that Los Angeles is now willing to make a trade, even if Howard won't guarantee that he won't test free agency in 2013.
With Howard's reported commitment to staying in L.A. and the Lakers willingness to move Andrew Bynum, Orlando appears to be holding up a potential deal. The Magic don't have a problem with waiting to make a move, looking for the best trade possible.
Orlando wants young players and draft picks in exchange for Howard. They also want to unload at least one player who is owed a lot of money. Jason Richardson is set to make close to $19 million over the next three years, while Hedo Turkoglu has two years and $24 million dollars left on his contract.
A trade could be done soon if the Magic will accept Bynum in a trade, but the team is skeptical of acquiring the big man. Bynum is also a free agent next summer and hasn't indicated that he'd sign an extension with Orlando.
The Lakers have been trying to bring a third team into the discussions to get a deal done. The Cavaliers have expressed an interest in becoming involved. Cleveland would get Bynum in a potential trade, and they could send draft picks and Anderson Varejao to Orlando.
If Los Angeles can't come to terms with Orlando, they will look to sign other players to round out their roster. They recently agreed to terms with Antawn Jamison and could bring back Jordan Hill.
If the Magic and Lakers can't come to an agreement, the Rockets and Hawks seem to be the next likely landing spots for Howard. Houston has been after Howard since the season ended, and would trade for him without assurances that he'd re-sign with them. Atlanta can offer Orlando Al Horford, though the two sides haven't come close to making a trade.
Brooklyn appears to be out of the running for Howard, at least for now. They would send Brook Lopez to the Magic in a potential deal, but they can't trade him until Jan. 15 because he just signed an new contract to remain with the Nets.