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Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Stein: The latest on the D-12 drama

By Mike Mazzeo

ESPN.com’s Marc Stein updates us on the latest D-12 trade drama.

His entire story can be found on the TrueHoop blog.

Essentially, it comes down to this:

• If the Lakers are willing to part with both Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, that offer would trump the Nets offer, and a three-team scenario could emerge in which Dwight Howard ends up L.A., Orlando receives Bynum, Luis Scola and Kevin Martin and Houston gets Gasol. The Magic and their 85-year-old owner don’t want to rebuild, Stein writes, but that choice may not be up to them. Can they really afford to lose Howard for nothing? Probably not.

• Stein brings up a scenario in which the Hawks, who just blew the Nets out of their own building on Tuesday night, would send Joe Johnson and Josh Smith to the Magic for D-12. But would Howard want to stay there long-term? It seems doubtful. In the offseason, Howard’s agent gave Orlando a list of three teams to shop him to: New Jersey, Los Angeles and Dallas. Chances are, he’s going to end up in one of those three places.

• The Nets may not have the trade assets they once did -- Brook Lopez’s value is obviously diminished since he broke his foot and is no longer the most durable big man in the NBA -- but they can and will likely try to recruit more teams to strengthen their package. And here’s what keeps them in the mix:

Writes Stein:

The strongest signals in circulation indicate that Howard has the Nets in the top spot on that list, since that would allow him to play alongside fellow All-Star Deron Williams, move with the Nets to Brooklyn starting next season and -- perhaps as important as anything, one source maintains -- hush the criticism about following Shaquille O'Neal's career script too closely by choosing to spurn the Lakers instead of joining them.

So there you have it. It will be fascinating to see how this story develops. Remember the Nets play the Magic on Thursday night in Orlando. And don’t think word of all the “We Want Howard!” chants from the Prudential Center won’t get to Howard sometime Wednesday or Thursday.

Other observations from the Nets:

• Yes, it’s only two games, but did anyone expect shooting guard Anthony Morrow to get off to a 5-for-17 start from the field this season? The second-most accurate 3-point shooter in league history, Morrow has connected on just three of his first 10 attempts from downtown. Remember, Morrow was 0-for-10 from the floor in the team’s second preseason game. This isn’t something you should freak out about yet, but if it continues to be a trend, then who knows. The Nets need Morrow to make shots so that defenses can’t key in so much on D-Will. Otherwise, rookie MarShon Brooks may be starting a whole lot sooner than he was supposed to.

• Again, it’s early, but what’s up with Mehmet Okur? In his first 40 minutes with the Nets, the 32-year-old veteran has scored just two points on 1-for-9 shooting. Now, Okur has practiced with the Nets just a couple times, so he likely doesn’t have a grasp of the offense yet. But seriously, 1-for-9? This is definitely a concern moving forward. The Nets better hope the 23-year-old Lopez speeds up his recover, because it doesn’t appear that they even have a capable replacement.