|The Magic's front office is growing increasingly comfortable with the idea of trading Howard. (U.S. Presswire)|
As the Orlando Magic grew more comfortable Monday with sending Dwight Howard to Brooklyn, a multi-team trade scenario became even more complicated with the Nets seeking a fourth team to funnel another first-round pick to the Magic, league sources told CBSSports.com.
In its current form, the deal would enlist Cleveland as a landing spot for Kris Humphries in a sign-and-trade and send three first-round picks to Orlando along with Brook Lopez and cap-filler, sources said. The Nets approached the Clippers Monday and asked if they'd be interested in second-year guard MarShon Brooks for a lottery-protected first-round pick that would go to Orlando in the deal, two people with knowledge of the discussions said. The Clippers' front office was mulling the possibility Monday afternoon.
The level of protection on the pick could be a key negotiating point, as several other teams -- the Bulls, Bobcats, Jazz and Timberwolves -- have extra future first-round picks that could be more valuable than the Clippers' selection. The Bulls, for one, have no interest in Brooks or in helping a burgeoning Eastern Conference rival in Brooklyn land Howard, sources said. Also, Chicago's extra pick, from the Bobcats, could wind up being just outside the top 10 by 2014 and is unprotected in 2016.
Another key hurdle remains getting Humphries, an unrestricted free agent, to sign off on what would be a one-year guarantee to go to Cleveland as part of the blockbuster trade. Humphries potentially could go back into the free-agent pool next summer and score his multi-year deal, but it's a risk. As of early Monday, there had been no discussions yet between Cleveland and Humphries' representatives.
Much work remains before the deal can reach the verge of completion, but there was a growing sense Monday that was due all the moving parts in the deal and not Orlando's reluctance to move forward with it. The Magic have yet to rule out other trade options for Howard, but sources said the organization was coming to the realization that the Nets could offer them the strongest package of picks and cap relief to begin the rebuilding process from the ground up after Howard's departure.
Players and other assets were going in and out of various trade scenarios Monday as the discussions advanced to the point where the Nets and Magic were initiating medical reviews for Howard (back) and Lopez (foot), respectively, sources confirmed. Pending a positive review of Lopez's foot injury by Orlando's medical staff, the Magic have grown comfortable with Lopez being the key veteran player coming back in a Howard trade, sources said. Lopez would command at least $10 million a year in a sign-and-trade as part of the deal.
In fact, in the past 48 hours, another team expressed interest in Lopez and stood ready to offer a package of draft picks for him in the event Orlando didn't want him, league sources told CBSSports.com. That team "couldn't get in the game," one of the sources said, a strong indication that the Magic "weren't selling" Lopez in the deal.
The mammoth trade proposal, which would form yet another super team in a major NBA market, looked in its most basic form like this Monday:
If Humphries agrees to a three-year deal as part of the trade -- only the first year needs to be guaranteed under NBA rules -- then the price of $3 million and a first-round pick (not to mention moving Walton) seems fair for Cleveland's trouble of facilitating the deal by taking Humphries.
The Magic's assortment of first-round picks, millions in cap relief and a 7-footer and legitimate NBA starter in Lopez has struck the organization as their best chance to move forward with a plan to build through the draft the way GM Rob Hennigan's mentor, Sam Presti, did in Oklahoma City.
The Nets? The Nets would get Dwight Howard, and the NBA would get another super team in a major market. What else is new?