Joe Johnson's pricey arrival to the Nets was expected to doom Dwight Howard's yearning trade request from the Orlando Magic to the newly relocated NBA franchise in Brooklyn.
Despite the combination of salary cap issues, future luxury taxes, and unappealing assets, the trade that intends to ship Howard to Brooklyn is back on the table.
This time around, the trade is twice as complicated, involving a total of four NBA franchises coming to together facilitate the move. The latest rumored offer involves the Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Los Angeles Clippers, all in a combined effort to essentially appease Howard's wishes of relocating to Brooklyn.
The aforementioned proposed trade will undoubtedly reshape each franchise, boosting one franchise towards becoming an immediate title contender, while the other begins a rebuilding era.
The Magic would receive Brook Lopez, Damion James, Shelden Williams, Armon Johnson, and two first-round draft picks from the Nets, while also receiving another first rounder from the Clippers and Luke Walton from the Cavaliers.
The Nets would receive Howard, Jason Richardson, Chris Duhon, and Earl Clark from the Magic.
No team would want to trade the NBA's best center, but Howard has put the Magic in a situation in which they don't have much of a choice. Shipping Howard off marks a major turning point for the Orlando Magic. The franchise will drop their position as a perennial contender in the Eastern Conference and wilt into a new rebuilding phase.
Replacing Howard with Lopez drastically changes the Magic's defensive and rebounding output. Lopez only played five games last season due to a serious foot injury, followed by an ankle injury. The season prior, Lopez averaged an abysmal 6.0 rebounds per game. No player can actually replace Howard's rebounding and shot blocking, but Lopez presents a problem on the defensive side of floor. If Lopez does not improve upon his defensive play, the Magic will suffer against most other NBA frontcourts.
Offensively, Lopez may not be the physical powerhouse that can tear the rim down, but his scoring has never been questioned. In his last full season (2010-11), he averaged 20.4 points per game, ranking as the third highest scoring center in the league. Lopez is also a much better free throw shooter than Howard, holding a career percentage of 79.6 percent, compared to Howard's 58.8 percent.
Other than last season's foot surgery, Lopez has not only remained healthy, but has also steadily improved his scoring each season. The Stanford product is a promising young big man that has the potential to consistently score 20 points a night.
The Magic are also trading away older players with unfavorable contracts, such Jason and Quentin Richardson, leaving themselves with cap space for upcoming free agents in the future. The three future first-round draft picks directly indicate that the Magic are ready for a face lift and will be reliant on upcoming drafts to herd in young talents.
Howard finally landing in Brooklyn makes the Nets contenders in the Eastern Conference.
An All-Star trio of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Howard poses as an undeniable inside-outside threat. Howard is the powerful defensive force that has eluded the Nets for the past decade. This trade gives the Nets somebody that can jump out the building for dunks, alley-oops, and put-backs. He's one of the best shot blockers and post defenders in the entire league, and a rebounding machine.
Besides Brooklyn's three feature players, the team still has a great starter in Gerald Wallace who can play both forward positions. The team has also recently agreed to terms with veteran power forward Reggie Evans and Bosnian forward Mirza Teletovic. If the Nets re-sign Gerald Green, the team will have a solid crew of backup shooting guards featuring Green, Richardson, and rookie Tyshawn Taylor.
The acquisition of Howard shifts the Nets from a borderline playoff team to a franchise that can now compete with the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, and Miami Heat.
If Brooklyn can pull off the trade, the team will clearly be a better team than before the deal. However, there are concerns about Howard's bad back. He is coming off of back surgery and missed a good chunk of this past season.
Brooklyn needs to be careful about the star center's injury, which has also resulted in Howard missing this summer's Olympics.