Unable to Make It Work, Nets Halt Bid for Howard

The maddening aspect of Dwight Howard’s unresolved situation with the Orlando Magic: It didn’t have to be this way.

Had the All-Star center decided to opt out of the final year of his contract for 2012-13 instead of opting in, Howard would have been a free agent after last season and would have been able to sign with the Brooklyn Nets when the clock hit midnight ET Wednesday.

That didn’t happen, and Howard’s status, which commandeered Orlando’s 2011-12 season, threatens to drag out through the rest of the summer, the NBA’s 2012-13 training camp, the start of the season, the 2013 All-Star game and the next trade deadline.

Unmoved by trade offers from multiple teams that he finds unsatisfactory, Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said Wednesday that discussions to move Howard aren’t over but have stalled.

“The parameters of what we talked about are a little bit in a stationary position, and currently, as it’s constructed, I’m not sure that there’s anything to really continue to discuss,” said Hennigan, who became the Magic’s general manager three weeks ago.

Hennigan said he has been in communication with Howard and talked to him Wednesday, describing it as business-like but conversational.

The Magic tried to send Howard to the Nets and even tried involving up to two other teams to complete a complicated, multi-player deal early this week. But there were too many snags, including a handful of Nets free agents who had to buy into sign-and-trade deals.

That didn’t happen. So the Nets have decided to move forward and agreed to a four-year, $60 million deal with center Brook Lopez.

Lopez was at one time one of the players the Nets would have sent to Orlando for Howard. With his signing, he can’t be traded until Jan. 15 because of a provision in the new collective bargaining agreement.

The Nets also signed free-agent forward Gerald Wallace to a four-year, $40 million contract. Acquired at the trade deadline from the Portland Trail Blazers, Wallace averaged 15.2 points and 6.8 rebounds for the Nets.

The Magic also had exploratory talks about dealing Howard to the Houston Rockets or Los Angeles Lakers, with Lakers center Andrew Bynum possibly landing in Houston. No deal could be worked out — to date.

“We haven’t ruled out anything,” Hennigan told reporters. “We continue to be process driven. … Again, the mantra is as we’re figuring out this plan and process, what’s in the best interest for this organization?”

The best interest of the Magic? That would be some combination of first-round draft picks, young, talented players and salary-cap relief for trading Howard. So far, that combination hasn’t been found.

Source: USA Today

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