Over the weekend, it became clear — if it wasn't already — that Dwight Howard did, indeed, want to be traded. The Magic obliged, granting Howard permission to talk with officials from the Nets, Mavericks, and Lakers. The Nets quickly jumped to the forefront of trade talks, engaging in negotiations with the Magic that initially centered around a package of Brook Lopez and draft picks in exchange for Howard, but which subsequently grew and grew. The most recent, convoluted iteration of the deal lassoed in Orlando's Chris Duhon and Hedo Turkoglu (owner of a rather unwieldy contract), as well as the Blazers' Gerald Wallace, with the Nets heaping even more picks onto their package. At some point this afternoon, when trying to untangle the mess of picks and contracts, Magic GM Otis Smith decided he'd had enough.
The Magic, reports Ken Berger, have now decided to cut off trade talks and hold on to Howard for the time being.
The Nets were "pushing hard" over the past 48 hours and accelerated the talks to the point where teams were being recruited to serve as a third or fourth team to provide Orlando with the kind of assets it would find acceptable if there was no other option but to trade Howard. However, a person with knowledge of the situation said Wednesday, "The Magic are in no rush to do anything." The team's top priority remains to find a way to keep Howard in Orlando.
This off-season's trade talks have had a way of jolting back to life, but the indication now is that the Magic would like to go into the season (or least the preseason) with Howard on the roster, see if they can convince him to stick around by winning, making moves, or giving him firm but soothing hand massages, then reengage in trade talks closer to the March deadline, if need be.
Again, it wouldn't be the least bit surprising if negotiations were rekindled, like, tomorrow, but for the time being, the Nets are a bit stuck. Their vacillating involvement in the Magic deal coincided with some second-tier names (Nene, et al) signing elsewhere, and left New Jersey pretty much where they were at the end of last season (give or take a Kris Humphries or Shelden Williams, and hopefully for this Knicks fan, not a Shawne Williams). Deron Williams will dish to a decent enough group of bros that, alas, does not include a clear-cut second star.
Whenever Orlando is ready to talk again, the Nets should be back atop the list of Howard's suitors, but between now and then, they might just have to sit on their hands and wait.