Nets to 'resolve' Dwight Howard bid
Updated: July 11, 2012, 11:35 AM ET
By Ric Bucher | ESPN The Magazine
The Brooklyn Nets will "resolve" their pursuit of Dwight Howard on Wednesday, a league source said.

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New general manager Billy King is meeting with the agent for center Brook Lopez in Los Angeles on Wednesday, sources said, and it is expected that he will either sign Lopez with the intent on dealing him to the Orlando Magic for Howard or sign Lopez with the idea of keeping him and moving forward without Howard.

The Nets are convinced the chance of making a deal for Howard will be undermined as teams sign free agents and eliminate their flexibility to be trade partners in providing the draft picks, salary-cap room and young talent the Magic are seeking for their disgruntled All-Star center.

On Tuesday night, the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers rejoined the Nets as the most serious potential trade partners with the Magic on a Howard deal, sources close to the process told's Marc Stein.

Sources told that the Rockets are discussing a multitude of trade scenarios with the Magic, offering to serve both as the team that would acquire Howard in a direct trade between the clubs and also as a third team that would participate in a trade that lands Howard with the Lakers and brings All-Star center Andrew Bynum to Houston.

Sources say that new Magic general manager Rob Hennigan might feel more comfortable taking back a package of youngsters, recent draftees and future first-round draft picks -- while shedding some long-term salary as well -- than taking on Bynum as Howard's replacement and facing a similar challenge in convincing him to commit to the franchise long-term like the Magic have dealt with for months with Howard.

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The key elements of the three-team proposal, sources said, call for the Lakers to acquire Howard and the Rockets -- realizing their long-running quest to acquire a top-20 player -- to take back the mercurial Bynum as he enters the final year of his contract.

The Nets have been working feverishly all month to finally acquire Howard to pair with returning All-Star guard Deron Williams and incoming All-Star guard Joe Johnson, but they need other teams to help complete the deal.

Sources told on Monday the Nets and Magic were cautiously optimistic the Cavaliers and Clippers would sign off on a four-team blockbuster that would have sent Howard to Brooklyn. But sources said that the complexities involved in that trade, which required free agents such as Lopez and Kris Humphries to agree to be signed and traded to make it work, appear to have led to its collapse.

Another factor, sources say, is Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert's reluctance to sign off on a trade that would surely set up the Cavaliers for heavy criticism for their role in helping the Nets assemble the NBA's latest star-laden lineup to compete with the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and Lakers.