The Superman saga continues to take shape. The latest twist has Dwight Howard possibly landing with the Nets in a multi-team trade. How would this change the hoops landscape?
Our writers tackle five D12-sized questions:
1. Who would win this trade?
Henry Abbott, ESPN.com: The Nets. Thanks to his age and size, Dwight Howard might project to contribute the most, for the longest, of any player now in the NBA. That gives the Nets a real chance to pull off one of the toughest tricks in sports: to change a team everyone knows is crappy into a team everyone knows is good. That's branding, and in Brooklyn that will be worth billions.
John Hollinger, ESPN.com: New Jersey, of course. The best that Orlando can do in any Dwight Howard trade is not lose too badly. Winning is out of the question.
Danny Nowell, Magic Basketball: The Nets would be getting the lone franchise-changing player, so that makes them the clear winners here even if they have to absorb some heinous contracts.
Eddy Rivera, Magic Basketball: Nets. Any time that you acquire a top-two player in the NBA who's 26, durable, in his prime, a perennial MVP and a defensive player of the year candidate -- yeah, this answer is a no-brainer. Howard's skill on the court is matched by his marketability off the court, which makes him the perfect franchise centerpiece to build around.
David Thorpe, ESPN.com: Dwight Howard is the most dominant paint player in basketball. There is no one like him. Getting him at any cost works for the team acquiring him, so the Nets are smiling.
2. Would the Magic be getting enough for Dwight Howard?
Henry Abbott, ESPN.com: No. They would not be getting fair value in terms of straight talent. But for a potential free agent who could leave for nothing, it's a very respectable haul, even if it does include Johan Petro.
John Hollinger, ESPN.com: Of course not. It's virtually inconceivable that they could. Where I question this trade even more, however, is that I don't understand why they want Gerald Wallace rather than draft picks.
Danny Nowell, Magic Basketball: They're good, talented players and probably "enough" in that sense.
However, as with the Scola-Martin package that NOLA was offered for Paul, good and talented veterans are not necessarily what you need to rebuild a squad that loses a player like Howard. I'd prefer a package with more upside and financial flexibility. Not sure the Nets have that to offer.
Eddy Rivera, Magic Basketball: No. Unless the Magic are trading Howard for LeBron James, every trade package floating out there isn't going to be good enough. As the saying goes, teams never get fair trade value for a franchise player. Lopez? Wallace? Role players? Seriously? Even with multiple draft picks, the Magic are better off keeping Howard around for the time being.
David Thorpe, ESPN.com: As Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri said last season after losing Melo, "we got killed." Such is life when forced to trade that kind of talent. But if anyone can get Lopez to realize his vast potential, it's Stan Van Gundy. Lopez has All-Star potential, which helps ease the pain of losing Superman.
3. With this trade, who would be better: Nets or Knicks?
Henry Abbott, ESPN.com: That's the real beauty of this. The Battle for New York would be so on, and for many years. Long-term, I'd much prefer a Deron Williams-Dwight Howard team over a Carmelo Anthony-Amare Stoudemire team. Williams and Howard play the two most important positions and defense. But this season, the Nets would be a bit of an experiment, while the Knicks have had a little time together, which might make the difference in the early going.
John Hollinger, ESPN.com: Knicks, until the Nets get some actual players to play the 2, 3 and 4.
Danny Nowell, Magic Basketball: I think the Knicks, for now. A defensive-minded player such as Chandler was exactly what the Knicks needed to complement Amare and Carmelo, and while I think the Nets' future would be brighter after acquiring Howard, there is not much talent on that roster otherwise.
Eddy Rivera, Magic Basketball: Nets. Yes, the Knicks have Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, but aside from Landry Fields, there's little quality depth on the roster, and the search for a point guard continues. The Nets don't have much quality depth, either, but Howard is the best player in the group, and the combo of Howard and Williams can maximize its potential because they're such a natural fit together. New Jersey has the better coach, too.
David Thorpe, ESPN.com: I'd say Knicks today, Nets tomorrow, but it's all very foggy now. I envision major roster changes over time, and perhaps a coaching change or two as well in the next two seasons. When it all shakes out, I'd rather have D12 than anyone else.
4. Would this trade make the Nets contenders?
Henry Abbott, ESPN.com: Not if you mean a team that is likely to make the Finals. They would not be favored in an early-round series with the Heat or Bulls. But just getting to such a series would be huge for this team, and once you're there, every team has a puncher's chance.
John Hollinger, ESPN.com: Not yet. They're basically two All-Stars, an awesome shooter, and a bunch of D-League filler.
Danny Nowell, Magic Basketball: Not yet. But it makes them the sort of team that draws talent, with basketball's two most important positions locked up in a huge way.
Eddy Rivera, Magic Basketball: Yes. Any time you acquire someone of Howard's caliber, you immediately become contenders. And with Williams, Howard would have the best teammate he's ever played with. That being said, the Nets would still need to surround Howard and Williams with quality role players before they can be considered favorites ahead of the Miami Heat, etc.
David Thorpe, ESPN.com: Hardly. Miami still has a big advantage, as does Chicago.
5. Are the Lakers blowing it by not acquiring Dwight Howard?
Henry Abbott, ESPN.com: He's the most valuable player they could get, but if the Magic don't believe in building around the oft-injured Andrew Bynum, what choice do the Lakers have? In this deal, the Magic would get right-now talent in Wallace, a big with potential in Lopez, precious cap relief and more precious picks. Tough to see how the Lakers could beat that.
John Hollinger, ESPN.com: Yes. If I were L.A. I would offer both Gasol and Bynum and not even think twice about it. That would blow away anything New Jersey can put on the table.
Danny Nowell, Magic Basketball: I think so. It's unclear what the plan is right now in L.A., and it's easier to build around a healthy 7-footer than an injured point guard. L.A. has already sacrificed its greatest advantage -- versatile height -- and it now seems hard to imagine a smooth transition to a Kobe-less future.
Eddy Rivera, Magic Basketball: No. If the Los Angeles Lakers are able to acquire Chris Paul, not acquiring Howard would be OK. The Lakers don't want to give up Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum for Howard. Instead, Los Angeles feels a trio of Paul, Kobe Bryant and Bynum would be a formidable and acceptable alternative. And it would be.
David Thorpe, ESPN.com: If I ran that team, I'd make everyone available (Kobe has a no-trade clause) and do all I could -- get a third team involved, and a fourth team, and whatever else is necessary. Getting Dwight is a once-in-a-10-year hope. So, in a word, yes.
ESPN.com and the TrueHoop Network
Henry Abbott, John Hollinger and David Thorpe are NBA writers for ESPN.com. Danny Nowell and Eddy Rivera write for the TrueHoop Network.