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dwight howard watch

So, Are the Nets Getting Howard or Not?

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 13:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic shoots a free throw shot during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on March 13, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Magic defeated the Suns 111-88. 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 Christian Petersen/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Dwight Howard He wouldn't come here to shoot free throws.

So, Deron Williams is staying with the Nets. (Personal thanks to Chris Broussard, without whom we'd have no idea.) What could have been a total disaster in the first season in the new building, new city — overpaid Gerald Wallace and Joe Johnson, with some random third-tier point guard throwing balls over their heads — now has legitimate excitement. We live about a five-minute walk from the Barclays Center, and we noticed a considerably higher number of Brooklyn Nets hats out yesterday than we had in days previous. (To be fair: The sun was very bright.) The Nets have something happening next season, no matter what happens with Dwight Howard. But maybe something will still happen with Dwight Howard.

The Nets are surely going to try to make it happen, and Stefan Bondy of the Daily News has a handy list of people whose egos and dorsal regions will need to be massaged for this to have any chance. But their offer — Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks, and draft picks pretty much until the end of time — is still less than what the Houston Rockets (who are pushing hard for Howard even though he says he doesn't want to go there) are offering. And never mind the still-ongoing possibility that the Lakers will send Andrew Bynum to Orlando, which is surely the Magic's best-case scenario.

Still: Dwight Howard continues to say he'll only re-sign with one team, and that's the Brooklyn Nets. And that's a team that, with Williams and Johnson and that Bosnian fellow who was so kind to take $4 million less over two years to help the Nets get Howard (quite kind, that), just became that much more attractive to him. It remains unlikely that Howard will end up with the Nets. But there's still a chance, and that's really quite amazing, especially considering Williams, Johnson, Wallace, and the Bosnian would all still be here, surrounding him. That's some sort of team.

The Nets are covering their bases: They're also trying to trade for the Bucks' Ersan İlyasova if Howard doesn't come through. (Potential complication: The Bucks don't want to trade him. It happens.) Point is, the Nets have put together an extremely impressive team in three days, and they're not finished. What a week.

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Photo: Christian Petersen/2011 Getty Images