Dwight Howard deal more complex

Updated: July 10, 2012, 11:52 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Brooklyn Nets' persistent efforts to land Magic center Dwight Howard are getting close to paying off, according to sources close to the process.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Nets and Magic are cautiously optimistic that the Cavaliers and Clippers will help them facilitate a four-way trade that lands Howard in Brooklyn.

According to sources the Nets would receive Howard, Jason Richardson, Chris Duhon and Earl Clark in the proposed deal. The Magic would get Brook Lopez, Luke Walton, Damion James, Shelden Williams, Armon Johnson and three first-round picks -- two from the Nets and a lottery-protected first from the Clippers. The Cavs would get Kris Humphries, Quentin Richardson, Sundiata Gaines, a first-round pick from the Nets and $3 million in cash. The Clippers would receive MarShon Brooks.

The deal also could involve the Charlotte Bobcats replacing the Cavaliers, league sources told ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher.

Further hurdles exist in that Lopez, Humphries, James, Williams, Johnson and Gaines would all have to agree to sign-and-trades to move them.

Sources told ESPN.com that the complicated deal was getting "close."

As part of their due diligence the Nets and Magic have exchanged medical information on Howard, who had back surgery, and Lopez, who had foot surgery, sources told Bucher.

Humphries' agent, Dan Fegan, is still trying to convince Humphries to settle for a deal that will be guaranteed for just one year. Fegan also represents Howard. The Bobcats have more salary-cap space than the Cavs and would not be opposed to a multiyear deal for Humphries, a source told Bucher.

A couple of weeks ago, just before Orlando hired Rob Hennigan as its new general manager, Brooklyn offered a similar three-team trade proposal to the Cavs, sources said, only to be turned down by the Magic.

But there is another potential hurdle that the Nets and Magic are fighting.

Multiple league executives told ESPN.com on Sunday that there is growing reluctance among some teams to participate in the sort of three-team deal that would get Howard to Brooklyn, amid some leaguewide dissatisfaction that the Los Angeles Lakers were able to swing a deal for Steve Nash last week.

Being the cog in creating another super team in Brooklyn, with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson already in the mix, is not palatable to some teams concerned about competitive balance.

"You can talk about the new [luxury] tax all you want, but if the Lakers get Nash and the Nets get Howard, then what did the new CBA accomplish?" one GM said. "You have to realize part of long-term planning is making sure you don't help create teams you can't beat."

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