- Ric Bucher, NBA Reporter, ESPN The Magazine Senior Writer
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"Dwight's position has remained unchanged since the end of this past season," said Dan Fegan of LaGardere Unlimited. "He fully intends to explore free agency at the end of next season, regardless of what team trades for him, including Brooklyn."
A source said the Nets never insisted Howard commit to an extension as a prerequisite for acquiring him, which Nets president Billy King confirmed in a text message.
Howard told the Magic, according to GM Rob Hennigan, he would like to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets above any other team. The Nets made concerted efforts to strike a deal for Howard earlier this month, but were forced to stop when the Charlotte Bobcats threatened to sign their restricted free agent center, Brook Lopez, to an offer sheet.
Lopez was expected to be a key part of any deal with the Magic and signing an offer sheet could have preempted including him in any deal, depending on the terms of the offer sheet. The Nets then signed Lopez to a four-year, $61 million deal.
Since then, the Lakers have become the primary suitor for Howard, recruiting both the Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers as potential third-team participants to deliver the salary relief, draft picks and young talent that Orlando is seeking in return for their All-Star center.
The longest Howard could sign an extension, according to ESPN Insider's Larry Coon, would be two years if he signed with Orlando and was traded, or three years if he signed after being traded.
If he waits until his current deal expires, Howard would be eligible to sign a new five-year deal for as much as $116.9 million.
1dAlok Pattani, ESPN Stats & Information
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