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GM Sean Marks, Nets officially get ball rolling on freeing cap space

Club is buying out Dwight Howard and placing him on waivers.

Hornets center Dwight Howard, shown here arguing with

Hornets center Dwight Howard, shown here arguing with a referee as Charlotte plays the 76ers on April 1, 2018, was officially traded to the Nets on Friday, July 6, 2018. The Nets were to buy him out, then place him on waivers. The move is expected to free up as much as $11 million under the salary cap. Photo Credit: AP / Nell Redmond

LAS VEGAS — As the Nets began NBA Summer League play Friday afternoon at Cox Pavilion, general manager Sean Marks was completing a mutually agreed upon buyout between the club and former All-Star center Dwight Howard, who was acquired two weeks earlier in a trade that became official Friday.

Once the deal was done, the Nets placed Howard on waivers, but there was no official word on the amount of the buyout, which Marks admitted will impact the Nets’ remaining salary-cap room this summer and planning for future moves.

Speaking before the buyout was completed, Marks said: “Dwight has been a terrific player in this league for a long time. I think this is something that we mutually agreed on to give him an opportunity elsewhere.”

The trade for Howard allowed Marks to move center Timofey Mozgov and the remaining two years on his contract valued at $32.7 million for Howard’s one remaining year at $23.8 million. Howard reportedly is set to take a two-year deal from the Wizards for $11.6 million, which reflects the $5.3 million mini-midlevel exception this season.

Buyouts often are for 33 percent less than full value, but it was considered unlikely Howard would leave more than $3 million to $5 million on the table. That would increase the Nets’ cap room this season from $6.6 million to somewhere in the $9 million-$11 million range.

More importantly, getting Mozgov off the books means the Nets will have cap space ranging from $50 million to $70 million next summer, which is enough for two max-salary slots.

“That was something that was in the back of our minds, whether it went down this [buyout] road or not,” Marks said. “Obviously, we’re here now, so creating cap space is definitely a priority for us.”

As for the Nets’ cap space this summer, Marks said, “When that’s fully determined, we’ll use it strategically, whether it’s on players or whether it’s on trades and acquisitions from other teams.”

The signing of Nets free agent Joe Harris to a two-year deal for $16 million and Trail Blazers backup center Ed Davis for their $4.4-million midlevel exception also became official. Marks canvassed several Nets veterans, and they were unanimous endorsing Harris’ return.

“Joe is one of those guys that brings a lot of the intangibles to our team,” Marks said. “There was no apprehension on a multiyear deal for Joe.”

Notes & quotes: Ding Yanyuhang, who is a two-time domestic MVP in the Chinese Basketball Association, left the Nets’ Summer League team because of knee tendinitis . . . Draft picks Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs can’t play because Marks still is negotiating buyouts with their European clubs . . . Israel native Shawn Dawson highlighted their 86-80 loss to the Magic with 20 points, 8-for-18 shooting and six rebounds.

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