Brooklyn Nets re-sign Brook Lopez; Dwight Howard talks over for now
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Don't expect to see Superman changing inside a Brooklyn phone booth anytime soon.
After weeks of trying once again to acquire Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic, the Nets' pursuit essentially ended until at least January when they re-signed restricted free-agent center Brook Lopez to a maximum four-year contract Wednesday.
Considered the centerpiece of any deal for Howard, Lopez can't be traded until Jan. 15 under league rules now that he officially signed his reported $61-million pact. So that ultimately means Howard, who has said he's willing to sign a long-term extension only if traded to Brooklyn, can put away those visions of sporting a Nets' uniform when the NBA season tips off in the fall.
Hours after the Nets reportedly set an ultimatum to acquire Howard Wednesday or else they'd end their seemingly nonstop efforts, Magic general manager Rob Hennigan told reporters at the NBA Summer League in Orlando, Fla., that he was still having conversations with Brooklyn, but indicated he wasn't bowled over by any of the potential offers.
"As currently structured," Hennigan said, "there's not a lot there."
In at least one of the proposals, the Nets had been offering a package of Lopez and several first-round draft picks, but that apparently did not inspire Hennigan to send Howard to his preferred destination. He said things with the Nets are "stationary" at the moment and shot down a report the Magic had tabled trade talks until they find a new head coach first.
When asked if Howard still wants to be traded, Hennigan said: "I don't have an answer for that."
Before the Nets pulled the trigger on bringing Lopez back, Hennigan didn't deny that if the Nets re-signed him to a maximum deal, the chances of trading Howard in the near future weren't likely. With the NBA's moratorium on player transactions lifted at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday and the Trail Blazers and Bobcats reportedly set to offer Lopez a max four-year offer sheet, the Nets didn't want to wait around and let that happen. They surely would have had to match the offer and it would have blown up any deal for the NBA's top center.
Howard, of course, could have avoided this whole saga if he hadn't waived his early-termination option on March 15 and decided to opt in to the final year of his contract rather than become a free agent.
Nets GM Billy King cleared cap space and did everything he could to put the Nets in position to get Howard and team him with point guard Deron Williams heading into the team's first season in the $1-billion Barclays Center.
By reversing course just before the trade deadline, though, Howard gave all the power to the Magic and Hennigan seems as if he intends on using it.
"What I can tell you and what I've said from Day One," Hennigan said, "is we will do whatever is in the best interests of this organization."
Although the Nets weren't able to land Howard, they did announce the expected signings of several others as King started filling out his roster.
The trade sending Joe Johnson from Atlanta to Brooklyn officially went through, pairing Johnson with Williams -- the face of the franchise who signed his deal in Las Vegas early Wednesday.
With Dan Ryan
in Orlando, Fla.