Can Lakers, Rockets, Magic Make a Deal?
The Orlando Magic are still trying to find a graceful way out of the Dwight Howard situation. While many hours have been spent exploring various deals with the Brooklyn Nets, Orlando has yet to trigger anything but rumors, speculation and anticipation.
Trying to construct a three or four-team deal is difficult and when you add in the sign-and-trade factor, it’s only compounded by conflicting interests.
Brooklyn still has a real chance to land Howard, but other suitors are still in pursuit.
HOOPSWORLD has learned that there have been preliminary discussions between the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets that would involve sending Andrew Bynum to the Rockets, Howard to the Lakers and a number of first-round picks, prospects and significant cap relief to the Magic.
The Magic are not necessarily in love with the idea of giving either Bynum or Brook Lopez a sizable, long-term commitment as they go through a major roster overhaul. Draft picks and prospects, a la the Denver Nuggets’ return on Carmelo Anthony, is said to be more appealing to Orlando.
The Rockets have no assurance from Howard that he’d re-sign there and while they might be willing to take that risk, Bynum has privately expressed a willingness to be in Houston long-term.
Houston has a tremendous haul of young, cheap players to offer as well as multiple draft picks. They also have a passing interest in Ramon Sessions, as the Lakers do in Courtney Lee.
L.A. has some confidence that Howard would eventually re-sign with the Lakers but a major qualm is, to date, Howard has resisted such a move. Additionally, Los Angeles wants to make sure Howard’s back is truly healthy.
The Rockets have also had interest in Pau Gasol, offering Luis Scola and Kevin Martin. It’s difficult to imagine the Lakers giving up on Gasol before playing him alongside Steve Nash, but L.A. has been looking to reconfigure their salary structure for some time. It’s unclear how far teams would take discussions should they gain traction.
Certainly the status of center Omer Asik would play into Houston’s decision as they’re giving him a three-year, $25 million offer sheet once the signing period begins. The Chicago Bulls will have three days to match, which could delay any resolution involving the Rockets until then.
Just as the Brooklyn conversation lingered and took many unexpected turns, there’s nothing said to be imminent between the Lakers, Rockets and Magic. However, it is one of many possible paths as the Magic try to step into their future post-Howard.