The latest NBA rumor is that star Orlando Magic center/forward Dwight Howard would like to be traded to the New Jersey Nets.

Howard, a free agent in 2012, has long been rumored to want to follow in Shaquille O'Neal footsteps and leave the Magic in favor of the Los Angeles Lakers, but according to sources close to the big man, he'd actually prefer to head to the Nets.

ESPN reported on Thursday night that Howard is expected to ask Magic management to trade him to the Nets so that he can team up with point guard Deron Williams before the team makes its move to Brooklyn. He has informed the Magic that he will not sign any long-term deal to remain in Orlando.

The deal would likely send Howard to the Nets in exchange for center Brook Lopez and two first-round draft picks. ESPN reported that the deal could be completed at some point on Friday, but there is some concern that the NBA could move to block the deal like it did with a proposed three-team deal that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers, Pau Gasol to the Rockets, and Luis Scola to the Hornets.

Multiple NBA owners, including Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, are concerned with all of the game's top players colluding and heading to big markets together. The owners along with commissioner David Stern have indicated that they'd like more of a competitive balance than what has occurred recently.

Owners of small-time markets have been discouraged by their star players leaving for greener pastures, notably Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh.

If the deal does go through, it will create an extremely dynamic playing relationship between Williams and Howard. The two have apparently discussed playing together in the past and the deal would likely ensure that Williams signs a long-term deal with the Nets.

I've talked to him a lot, Deron Williams told reporters this past week. We've had some conversations. He knows I want to play with him. I don't think there's a player in the NBA who doesn't want to play with Dwight Howard. I think he would love to play with me as well.

Williams has said that he'd like to stay with the Nets, but that it will in some way depend on what other talent the team is able to pair him with. Landing an all-star like Howard would certainly do the trick.

He's a monster. He's like a created player. He's not real, Williams said about Howard.

If the Nets are unable to acquire Howard, they will likely make a major push for Nuggets center Nene. The New York Post reports that the Nets could offer as much as a four-year, $70 million contract to Nene should the Howard deal fall through and the Knicks sign Mavericks center Tyson Chandler, as has been reported.