NBA Trade Rumor: Dwight Howard To N.J. For Brook Lopez & Picks

It’s always sad to see teams feel forced into a trade in preparation of the inevitable. But if a franchise can’t make a convincing argument for a player to stay – whether it be a competitive roster or boatloads of cash – then there’s nothing they can do. Like any investment that doesn’t pan out, businesses have to cut their losses and make the best move for the future. We saw this last season with the trades of Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams to the Eastern Conference, and could see it again real soon in the case of Dwight Howard.

From’s Marc Stein and Chad Ford:

The New Jersey Nets are prepared to offer a trade package featuring Brook Lopez and two future first-round picks to acquire Dwight Howard before the Orlando Magic center becomes a free agent in July 2012, according to sources close to the situation.

Sources told this week that, to sweeten the proposal, New Jersey would likewise offer to take back the contract of Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu, who has three seasons left on his contract worth just under $35 million. Absorbing Turkoglu’s remaining salary would become financially feasible for the Nets after the expected release of swingman Travis Outlaw through the amnesty clause that will be included in the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement and by including another smaller contract or two in the deal.

It’s been no secret that New Jersey has been after Howard since new owner Mikhail Prokhorov took office. And if they have any shot at securing a long-term commitment from Williams before they move to Brooklyn next summer, they need to put some pieces in place to encourage him to stay. The fact that New Jersey has made it clear they’ll take on Turkoglu’s albatross of contract has set the bar for what a deal will most likely have to entail to land Howard – something his other suitors might not be able to stomach.

The Los Angeles Lakers are also expected to eventually lodge their own trade bid for Howard – featuring some combination of Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom – but the Nets appear poised to furnish Orlando with a young replacement for Howard in Lopez, two higher draft picks than the Lakers could presumably offer and the ability to shed Turkoglu’s expensive deal, which will enable Orlando to take another big rebuilding step.

In the November issue of Esquire, Howard made it pretty clear that he was gone. And by convincing himself that he needs a change of scenery – no matter what the Magic organization does to help him win a championship – this will only increase the number of offers we see until a deal gets done.

If you were Orlando, would you accept this deal from New Jersey?

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