Orlando was close to a deal with the Nets. They would have received three future first round picks and Brook Lopez and would have given up Howard and one of their bad contracts. The deal never looked great for the Magic and that’s why it wasn’t much of a surprise when it fell through.
The Lakers appear to have possibly the best package to send Orlando’s way with Andrew Bynum. But Bynum hasn’t agreed to re-sign with the Magic past next season leaving Orlando holding out for more.
The Magic and GM Rob Hennigan seem more interested in acquiring picks and young players than a replacement for Howard in Bynum that would leave the team in a similar situation trying to keep him.
The Houston Rockets have emerged as the team with the best possible offer for Howard. It is a deal that the Magic should take advantage of and get done as soon as possible.
Houston is doing everything possible to get a chance at Howard most recently cutting cap room so that they will be able to absorb a few bad contracts from the Magic. The Rockets have amnestied Luis Scola which means they would be able to take on Glen Davis, Jason Richardson and Chris Duhon along with Howard.
The Rockets can put together a package involving multiple future first round picks, Kevin Martin, Patrick Patterson, Marcus Morris, Chandler Parsons and the rights to their three first round picks this year, Jeremy Lamb, Royce White and Terrence Jones.
The Magic can do exactly what they wanted to all along if they make a deal with the Rockets. Orlando gets to part ways with Howard and clear a ton of cap essentially allowing them to start over from scratch with a bunch of young talented players as well.
Howard has yet to agree to re-sign with the Rockets after next season if he is traded there but Houston and GM Daryl Morey remain optimistic they would be able to convince Howard to stay after a season with the team.
While the Rockets are going all in to acquire Howard, they have also made a few offer sheets to restricted free agents Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik. If Lin and Asik’s offers are matched by the Knicks and Bulls then the Rockets will have more cap space to go after Howard. The Rockets don’t want to pull out of any of the promised offer sheets either.
The Knicks are expected to match Lin’s offer sheet despite the Rockets increasing the amount in the deal. It was first reported that Houston offered Lin a 3-year, $19 million deal but has since increased to a 3-year, $25 million deal.
The Knicks could incur upwards of $45 million in luxury tax penalties by the third year of Lin’s contract if they match. All indications are that the Knicks aren’t too concerned about entering the luxury tax penalties over the next three seasons.