Magic GM casts doubt over Nets’ deal
Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan held a press conference at 4 p.m. ET and, at that moment, refused to confirm reports that trade talks with the Brooklyn Nets focused on Dwight Howard were dead as multiple reports indicated.
“That’s not accurate,” said Hennigan. “We’re still talking to the Nets.”
But unless another team joins the discussions, it’s unlikely the Magic will consummate a deal with Brooklyn, Howard’s preferred destination. Hennigan didn’t cover up his distaste for the package offered in return, saying “there’s not much there.”
The Nets offered multiple players — restricted free agent Brook Lopez and unrestricted free agent power forward Kris Humphries, both in sign-and-trade deals — and four first-round picks for Howard but were rejected, according to ESPN.
Hennigan did confirm he spoke with Howard on Wednesday but did not offer insight to those discussions. Multiple reports indicate Howard was told there’d be no deal with Brooklyn.
The Magic also want to retain cap flexibility, meaning a max contract in return isn’t palatable for Hennigan, but draft picks and young talent with modest contracts whet his appetite.
The immediate future of Lopez, who could sign a five-year, $78 million deal as soon as Wednesday night, stands as a major roadblock to any trade for Howard. Further delaying his signing would be a risk for the Nets, with cap-flexible teams such as Dallas, Charlotte and Portland capable of signing Lopez to a lucrative offer sheet structure in a way that would make it nearly impossible for Brooklyn to match with some $50 million committed to guards Deron Williams and Joe Johnson in 2014.
Hennigan said Wednesday he’s not sure where the Nets and Lopez stand, adding that he isn’t sure which reports to believe.
The offer sheet would also take Lopez out of immediate trade consideration. He wouldn’t be eligible to be traded by the Nets until December 15 if they were to match a competing offer sheet.
If the Magic do suspend trade talks, they’ll likely do so to be able to focus on hiring a head coach. Stan Van Gundy was fired in May.
Hennigan was hired just days before the NBA Draft in June. He overhauled the front office almost immediately and continues to lead interviews to find Van Gundy’s replacement.
In the end, could Howard stay with the Magic for the final year of his contract and beyond?
“There’s a chance, yeah,” Hennigan said.
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