The Dwight Howard Watch: A Rundown Of The Rumors

Once it was announced the NBA labor disagreement would soon be resolved, Orlando Magic Center Dwight Howard again became the main topic of conversation.

Most in the national media believe it is only a matter of time before Howard leaves Orlando for “greener” pastures, sparking an onslaught of rumors that seeminlgy involve any team who is even remotely close to being a playoff contender.

Here is a quick rundown of the biggest and probably most realistic trade scenarios:

Howard & The New Jersey Nets

The first rumor brought to the forefront last week involved Howard and the New Jersey Nets. In this proposed deal, the Magic would receive Brook Lopez and multiple first round picks while the Nets would take back Hedo Turkoglu and his bloated contract along with Howard. I took an extensive look at this rumor here.

In a new plot twist, David Baumann reports the Magic are trying to trade for Deron Williams:

Source in Magic front office confirms the Magic are attempting to acquire @DeronWilliams from the New Jersey Nets to help@DwightHoward .

Howard & The Los Angeles Lakers

We’ve heard rumors connecting Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers for over a year now. Recently, current Lakers and former Magic wing Matt Barnes told Andy Kamenetzky of EPSN Los Angeles he believes Howard wants to play for the Lakers:

Turns out, Barnes buys the chatter about Howard’s desire to don purple and gold, because he’s heard the same from a pretty reliable source: Dwight Howard.

“You know, I’ve been hearing [rumors about] Dwight,” acknowledged Barnes. “I’ve been hearing [rumors about] Baron [Davis in the event of getting amnestied]. I’ve been hearing stuff a lot lately. I’ve talked to both of those guys and they wanna be here, so we’ll see what happens.

Now, the Lakers apparently want both Howard and point guard Chris Paul:

Sources say Paul and Howard have had several conversations with each other about the possibility of playing together on various teams.

Several trade combinations would work for the Lakers. For instance, they could send Gasol to New Orleans for Paul, and Bynum to Orlando for Howard. If the Lakers threw Odom into the trade to Orlando, they could sweeten the offer for the Magic by taking back the contract of Hedo Turkoglu.

Howard & The Chicago Bulls

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports suggested the Bulls are in the race for Howard:

What’s more, the Chicago Bulls are still a sleeper for Howard, several league executives believe. “Chicago may tell Orlando to take any two players – or three – besides [Derrick] Rose,” one GM said. Howard isn’t keen on the cold weather, but the Bulls would have the best point guard-center combination since Magic and Kareem.

The Bulls have Omar Asik developing fast as a potential replacement for Joakim Noah(notes) should the Bulls include Noah in a package. Noah would have to be a part of it, but would a combination of Noah and Luol Deng(notes) or Carlos Boozer(notes) – bringing back Howard and one of those bad Orlando contracts – be enough? The Magic need a force to replace Howard, an anchor.

Teaming Howard with last season’s MVP, Derrick Rose, could make Chicago the immediate favorite to win the NBA championship. While the return Orlando would receive in Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and possibly Omar Asik isn’t as bad as some other proposed deals, Deng and Noah don’t exactly come on the cheap. Deng is scheduled to make over $30 million over the next three seasons while Noah is signed through 2015-16 and will make a little over $12 million per season.

Of course, none of these deals seem all that plausible, because the Magic don’t have to trade Dwight Howard. He’s yet to let him know he’s definitely leaving Orlando and until he does so, the Magic would be crazy to part with him.