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ORLANDO, FL - OCTOBER 10:  Chris Paul #3 of the New Orleans Hornets attempts a shot against Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic during the game at Amway Arena on October 10, 2010 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

dwight howard watch

Here Comes the Dwight Howard Watch … and the Chris Paul Watch, Too

Last season's Carmelo Watch was, all told, kind of exhausting. Honestly, we'd be happy if we never read the phrase "a person close to Anthony says" ever again. But now that there’s an NBA again, we get to more or less do it all over again with Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, both of whom can become free agents next summer. You might as well get psyched, since we don't have much of a choice.

Which is to say, get used to stories like this: ESPN reports that the Nets are prepared to offer a trade package including Brook Lopez and two first-round picks for Dwight Howard. (They'd also reportedly take Hedo Turkoglu's contract from Orlando.) Nets GM Billy King, meanwhile, has already denied he's in trade discussions with Orlando — although not before basketball writers could weigh in on the proposal that the Nets were reportedly preparing. Expect this kind of cycle to be repeated many times in the coming months. Oh, and have we mentioned that front offices haven't even been cleared to make roster moves yet?

We're in the early stages of the Chris Paul Watch, too: Here's a Chris Broussard tweet that says Paul won't sign a long-term extension in Boston, citing a source close to the situation. Needless to say, sources close to various situations are about to enter their busy time of year. And the Knicks will presumably try to preserve cap space for the summer, so they'll be a part of this, too, if not now, then come July 1. Yesterday, Paul was asked about his future, and said all the right things: "My heart is in New Orleans right now," for example. And he also said he would try not to get caught up in the sweepstakes to land his services. "I try not to pay attention to all that different type of stuff," he said. Perhaps he'll be able to avoid doing that, but make no mistake, there will no shortage of all that stuff in the coming months.

Photo: Sam Greenwood/2010 Getty Images