Thursday 18th October 2018,
The Hoop Doctors

Is Dwight Howard Still Interested in Brooklyn Nets?

This just won’t go away.

No matter what the numbers or sheer logic say, the Dwight Howard to Brooklyn Nets rumors just won’t subside. At all.

Brooklyn was Howard’s preferred destination of choice when he was with the Orlando Magic, but when the two sides were unable to strike an accord, Dwight ended up with the Los Angeles Lakers. And that should have been the end of it. But it wasn’t.

Leading into the trade deadline, general musings began to surface again, all of which were very vague. Each had the same message, though: Dwight was dead set on getting to Brooklyn.

Yeah. Right.

The deadline came and went, and once again, that was that.

Now set to enter unrestricted free agency, there’s no reason to think the Nets are in play. Not only are the Lakers considered favorites to re-sign Howard, but the Nets are capped out to the high heavens. So it’s not happening. We don’t even have to discuss it.

Or do we?

According to Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld, the Nets are still expected to make a play for the NBA’s best center this summer:

This offseason, the Nets will once again try to acquire Howard, and they’re still the big man’s dream destination. The Nets’ interest in Howard is well-documented and unchanged, according to sources close to the situation. This time around, it will be much harder for Brooklyn to land Howard, but they’ll give it their best effort.

In order to acquire Howard, the Lakers will have to agree with a sign-and-trade. Even if the Lakers are interested in such a trade, the biggest hurdle is that the Nets must be under the apron amount after the transaction is completed (and then stay under it). That’s what happens when a team spends a ton of money and has $84,445,148 guaranteed to players next season. This obstacle means the Nets would have to dump a salary or two in order to land Howard, which means finding another team to facilitate the trade.

That was the holdup last summer when the Nets were negotiating with the Magic, and it could be an issue again. Kris Humphries is an ending $12,000,000 contract this time around so it may be easier to find a taker, and Brook Lopez is coming off of an All-Star season without a major injury so the Lakers could have some interest in a sign-and-trade, especially since Lopez is younger and cheaper than Howard.

So much for letting this rumor die, eh?

Though it’s difficult to imagine Howard spurning the Lakers at this point, Brooklyn would be a market he’d do it for. It’s not as warm, but it’s just as big and he wouldn’t butt heads with Kobe Bryant (though will he and Deron Williams be cool?).

While Howard would (likely) be interested in such a scenario, don’t hold your breath. This simply isn’t going to happen. Why? Because again, the Nets are capped out beyond reason. And as Kennedy mentions, they would need to get below the tax apron, and stay below it, in any sign-and-trade they make. Which by pretty much all accounts, makes this impossible.

Brooklyn has $90 million committed in payroll next season, meaning they would somehow have to assume a max contract like Dwight’s while also shedding some serious payroll. Contracts like that of Gerald Wallace and Joe Johnson (and Kris Humphries) are ones the team would undoubtedly move in a heartbeat, but what unwitting franchises are going to take them on without sending any contract of ample expense back in return?

Beats me, probably because such teams don’t exist.

This is all assuming that the Lakers agree to a deal as well. Even if the Nets do the seemingly impossible and find a way to make the deal work financially, who’s to say the Lakers jump at the chance to acquire Brook Lopez and whoever else?

It’s perfectly fine for us to believe that Howard is a flight risk, because he is. And it’s perfectly sensible to render the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks or even Atlanta Hawks as teams with the potential to steal him away.

But the Nets? Not so much. That ship sailed awhile ago.

And barring the defiance of logic and finances, it’s almost damn near certain never going to come back.

Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.

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