Sunday, December 11, 2011

Howard prefers trade to Nets; Knicks acquire Tyson Chandler

Source : Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports

Orlando Magic superstar Dwight Howard has requested a trade to the New Jersey Nets, league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Saturday.

Orlando GM Otis Smith has made it clear that he will trade Howard wherever the Magic get the best possible package, but the fact that Howard is willing to sign a five-year, $109 million extension with New Jersey makes it likely that the Nets can be the most aggressive in offering an attractive package. New Jersey has been pursuing possible third-team partners to strengthen the offer for Howard, front-office sources tell Y! Sports.

Smith confirmed to the Orlando Sentinel that Howard asked to be traded.

Los Angeles had long been a preferred choice of Howard’s, but sources say that several factors have pushed him toward the Nets over the Lakers. Howard has a strong relationship with Deron Williams, and has also resisted following the same career path as Shaquille O’Neal, who left the Magic for the Lakers two decades ago.

The Nets are offering a package centered on Brook Lopez and multiple first-round picks, sources said. New Jersey is busily pursuing the involvement of third and fourth teams to broaden an offer to the Magic beyond Lopez and picks, front office executives tell Y! Sports. The Nets have been determined to make a deal for Howard, one of the league’s most dominant players, to be a centerpiece for them as they move into the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn next season. Howard could pair with Williams to make the Nets instant Eastern Conference contenders.

The Magic are still focused on a possible trade to the Lakers, sources said, for a package that would include Andrew Bynum. The Magic want to unload Hedo Turkoglu in any deal that includes Howard. The Nets, flush with salary cap space, would likely take Turkoglu into a deal.

Howard prefers the Nets over the Lakers, but hasn’t ruled out the possibility that he would sign a long-term extension with L.A. if he is traded there.

Orlando officials have resisted being told where Howard wants to be traded, sources said, but understand it will be difficult to get a strong trade package elsewhere if Howard won’t commit to re-signing with that team. After opting out of his contract on July 1, Howard would be eligible for a five year, $109 million extension with the Nets.

Knicks acquire Chandler
Source : BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer

Tyson Chandler joined the New York Knicks from Dallas on Saturday, believing that joining up with Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire keeps alive his chance of competing for championships.

The Knicks have long needed a defensive presence, and Chandler plans to provide it.

“I know what my job is coming here,” he said. “I know I came here to defend. I’m going to defend the rim, I’m going to rebound, I’m going to get extra shots. And if we play on both ends and play as a team, the sky is definitely the limit for this squad.”

Chandler gets a four-year contract worth about $56 million after coming to the Knicks via sign-and-trade as part of a three-team deal. The Knicks sent Ronny Turiaf and cash to the Washington Wizards and reserve guard Andy Rautins to the Mavericks, and there were other picks involved.

The Knicks also waived point guard Chauncey Billups and designated him as their amnesty player so they could afford Chandler.

The 2.13-meter (7-foot-1) Chandler helped the Mavericks win the NBA championship last season, averaging 10.1 points and 9.4 rebounds, and at first hoped he would return to Dallas. But the Mavericks wanted to keep other options open, and when the Knicks emerged as a surprising option, they quickly become Chandler’s preferred one.

“The Knicks were never on my radar. I’d never seen them as being a possibility and once I got word that it could potentially happen, they became my No. 1 priority was to get here,” Chandler said.

It took some work, notably using the amnesty clause to waive Billups so his $14.2 million salary wouldn’t count for salary cap or luxury tax purposes. Billups was their starting point guard last season after coming in a trade from Denver and had been expected to return.

“We didn’t want to get rid of Chauncey and when I talked to him today I told him, `Chauncey, it’s not like we’re waiving you because we don’t want you. Look at it as what it is. We traded you basically for the starting center on the NBA championship team,”’ interim general manager Glen Grunwald said.

Billups could be replaced by veteran Mike Bibby, who finished last season and will sign with the Knicks, a person with knowledge of the plans told The Associated Press.

Long undersized—Dwight Howard blocked more shots than they did as a team two seasons ago—the Knicks eagerly welcomed Chandler.

“Last year was an amazing run and after you win a championship it’s hard to go backwards,” Chandler said, “and the only thing I wanted in free agency was an opportunity to continue to chase that dream and continue to win championships.”

Though it was often believed the Knicks wouldn’t be spenders this offseason while saving their money for free agency in 2012, Grunwald felt adding a player such as Chandler was a better strategy for building a contender.

“When we looked at things this past summer and over the fall, we said it’d be great to get someone like Tyson Chandler. Well, we got Tyson Chandler, so that’s even better,” he said.

“Our plans haven’t changed. Tyson was the top of our list in terms of free agents this year. We took a look at everything, we felt this was the best move for us to build a team both in the short term and in the long term.”

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