Howard could've made this easy

Dwight Howard could’ve done it the easy way.

All the Magic center had to do was opt out of the final year of his contract in Orlando and he’d be free to sign with the Brooklyn Nets.

Instead, Howard wavered at the last minute, changed his mind for the 8,000th time, gave up his early termination option, and ended up at a podium talking about “loyalty.”

Some loyalty ...

On Monday, new Magic GM Rob Hennigan revealed that Howard told him in a meeting that he wants to be traded -- to Brooklyn.

C’mon, man! Seriously? Sigh ....

On the surface, it appears that Howard holds all the cards. He’s unhappy and playing on a one-year deal.

Only problem is, Hennigan still has to like what the Nets are selling in order to grant Howard’s wish. After all, he doesn’t have a no-trade clause.

Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks and a combination of expiring contracts and future first-round picks is a nice offer, but perhaps there’s something better out there.

Of course, there’s a caveat to that. Would a team be willing to risk sacrificing a bevy of assets knowing Howard might not sign long-term?

The Nets have their own problems right now. They’re trying to re-sign their superstar, Deron Williams, and they’re facing some heavy competition from the Mavericks.

Both teams will meet with the All-Star point guard on Monday, sources told ESPN.com.

The Nets are also exploring a trade for Joe Johnson, which would effectively take them out of the Howard sweepstakes, given that they’d already be committed to two max contracts -- plus Gerald Wallace and whatever Brook Lopez re-signs for as a restricted free agent.

Howard may want Brooklyn, but the Nets want to be competitive when they move into the $1 billion Barclays Center.

Adding a 26-year-old center that averages 21 points, 16 rebounds and 2 blocks per game would help.

Then again, a team featuring Williams, Johnson, Lopez and Wallace wouldn’t be too bad either.

Howard could’ve made this easy on everyone. He wanted Brooklyn. He wanted to play with D-Will.

Instead he put both himself and the Nets in a bind.