Monday, July 9, 2012

Latest NBA news ; Howard, Allen, Anderson

Source : Yahoo Sports

The Orlando Magic have intensified discussions about trading Dwight Howard, and the Brooklyn Nets are rapidly overtaking the Los Angeles Lakers as the strongest contender to land the disenchanted All-Star center, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Despite Orlando’s desire to make Lakers center Andrew Bynum the centerpiece of a trade package, a significant stumbling block remains in Bynum’s reluctance to commit to a long-term contract if he's traded to the Magic, sources said. Orlando doesn’t want to face the possibility of trading for Bynum only to lose him to free agency after the upcoming season.

The appeal of the Lakers' potential package for Bynum has also been diminished with Los Angeles sending its 2013 and 2015 first-round draft picks to the Phoenix Suns in the Steve Nash sign-and-trade deal. The NBA doesn’t allow teams to trade first-round picks in consecutive years, so the Lakers can’t offer Orlando their 2014 and 2016 first-round picks.

The Magic are portraying patience in making a deal for Howard, but have a strong distaste for engaging in a prolonged process that drags into the summer. From new general manager Rob Hennigan through Orlando ownership, the Magic want to find the best possible deal for Howard soon and cut ties with him, sources said.

As Orlando sorts through the offers, Howard's potential destination is increasingly looking like the Nets, sources said.

Bynum, 24, has one year left on his Lakers contract and has a short list of potential teams with salary-cap space and supporting cast that primarily include the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets with the Cleveland Cavaliers and a "couple others" on the list, league sources said. If Bynum remains with the Lakers past the Howard derby, he’ll have strong incentive to accept a maximum contract extension to stay in L.A., sources said. Otherwise, he has expressed a desire to test the free-agent market.

As much as Hennigan prefers to send Howard to a Western Conference team, the Magic keep coming back to the Nets as the best, safest package. Howard’s preferred trade partner – Brooklyn – has pushed into overdrive in offering up trade scenarios and options for the Magic, sources said. For now, Orlando prefers Nets restricted free-agent center Brook Lopez as a centerpiece player over having its pick of the Houston Rockets' roster, sources said.

The Nets started extension discussions with Lopez over the weekend, preparing for the possibility he could stay with them on a five-year deal or be moved to the Magic in a four-year contract as part of a sign-and-trade package for Howard. Lopez has been seeking a maximum contract extension --- five years for $75 million --- from Brooklyn, but the two sides are still negotiating a number. If Lopez is sent to the Magic in a sign-and-trade, the most he could get is $58 million over four years.

There have been three-team scenarios discussed where Orlando gets Lopez, and others where he could go elsewhere and the Magic would be compensated with as many as four future first-round draft picks, sources said. Nevertheless, the Magic are likely to take Lopez for themselves should they trade Howard to the Nets.

Hennigan has been consistent in pushing teams to offer him multiple first-round picks, as well as be able to absorb one of the Magic’s high-priced veteran contracts, including Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson, sources said.

Brooklyn has been searching for a third team willing to take free-agent forward Kris Humphries in a sign-and-trade deal. One team with salary-cap space – the Cleveland Cavaliers – would be willing to take Humphries on a potential one-year, $8 million or $9 million contract with no small condition: The Cavaliers would have to be compensated with at least one first-round draft pick, sources said. The Cavaliers have no interest in Humphries, one of the league’s best rebounders, as they rebuild their roster with young talent, and would add him exclusively as a means to stockpile even more draft picks over the next few years.

While the Nets are still working to use Cleveland in a potential deal, they're finding traction with two other possible scenarios to find a home for Humphries' contract, a source said.

Orlando further signaled its desire to start a complete rebuilding process when it sent restricted free-agent forward Ryan Anderson to the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday in a sign-and-trade deal. Anderson would’ve signed an offer sheet with the Hornets for $36 million over four years, and the Magic decided that was too steep a price to match. They Magic acquired backup center Gustavo Ayon in the sign-and-trade deal.

Allen will go South Beach

MIAMI (AP) -- Ray Allen lingered on the court for a bit after his Boston Celtics lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals to the Miami Heat last month, shaking hands and offering congratulations.

A few minutes later, Allen made a vow about his future.

''There's still a lot of basketball left in my legs,'' he said.

The Heat apparently were listening, apparently agree - and will soon officially welcome Allen to their club.

Allen told the Heat on Friday night that he intends to accept their contract offer and leave Boston after five seasons, even though the Celtics could have paid him about twice as much as the reigning NBA champions will be able to next season. Miami could only offer Allen the mini mid-level, worth about $3 million a year.

Heat owner Micky Arison tweeted the news just after 9:30 p.m. Friday, or about 2:30 a.m. Saturday in Europe, where Arison has been for several days.

''I was just woken up with great news,'' Arison wrote. ''Welcome to the family.'' Arison ended the tweet by making mention of Allen's jersey No. 20, but didn't mention the NBA's leading 3-point shooter by name. No matter - Allen's agent, James Tanner, confirmed the plan to The Associated Press moments later.

A person briefed on details of the decision told the AP that Arison got the word from team president Pat Riley, who made Allen the team's top free-agent priority - especially in recent days. Allen, who will be 37 this month, arrived in Miami on Thursday for a visit, went to dinner with Riley, coach Erik Spoelstra, team executive Alonzo Mourning and others Thursday night, then left Friday to presumably decide his future.

Hours later, the choice was known. Allen, who made a career-best 45 percent of his 3-point attempts this past season, cannot officially sign until Wednesday because of the league's moratorium.

''HeatNation continues to grow,'' Heat guard Dwyane Wade wrote on Twitter late Friday night. And Heat forward LeBron James, the league's reigning MVP and Finals MVP, added ''please welcome our newest teammate Ray Allen'' with the hashtag of ''Wow.''

It's the latest free-agency coup for Riley.

During the blockbuster summer of 2010, the Heat convinced James, Wade and Chris Bosh all to take less money than they could have gotten elsewhere in that offseason, so there would be enough room left to add players like Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller (who both also took smaller contracts) and Mario Chalmers. Then last summer, Shane Battier accepted a deal that will pay him $3 million annually.

The approach clearly worked.

Next fall, the Heat will raise a championship banner, and Allen will be with them for the title defense.

Wade and James both were involved on some level in the recruitment of Allen. James took to Twitter and Facebook in recent days to let his millions of followers know how much he wanted to see Allen in a Heat uniform, and Wade tweeted on Wednesday that the next day - the one where Allen was visiting - would be a big one for the franchise.

In the end, it appeared that the biggest push - again - came from Riley, who said before free agency started that Miami had identified ''five or six'' clear targets to add to the roster. He never specifically said Allen, and given how James was letting the secret out on Twitter anyway, Riley didn't have to say anything else.

New Orleans Hornets guard Jarrett Jack asked his followers in a tweet about an hour after the Allen story broke if he was ''wrong for thinking ray allen is a traitor'' for signing with Miami. Even NFL stars were reacting Friday night. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick used the following hashtags on Twitter to describe his reaction to Allen's decision: ''loaded,'' ''finalpiece'' and ''notfair.''

There are probably more than a few people in Boston who would agree.

Miami is still hoping to add at least one more piece through free agency, and is expected to meet this weekend with Marcus Camby (who would most likely have to be acquired through a sign-and-trade if he was to wind up with the Heat) and Rashard Lewis.

Earlier this week, the Celtics reportedly agreed on a $15 million, three-year deal with shooting guard Jason Terry. But Boston also wanted to keep Allen, with general manager Danny Ainge quoted in recent days saying ''we really want Ray to come back. Time will tell.''

Allen has made an NBA-record 2,718 3-pointers. He was mentioned in some trade possibilities this past season - a deal was nearly struck with Memphis - and Allen eventually lost his starting job to Avery Bradley. Allen needed surgery earlier this offseason to remove bone spurs from his right ankle, though he said when the Celtics were ousted from the playoffs by the Heat for the second straight year that his playing days were not over.

''It's hard to say what can happen, what may happen,'' Allen said after Game 7 of the East finals this year.

He said those words in Miami. Not even a month later, Allen - who helped the Celtics win the 2008 NBA title - decided to join the Heat.

Ryan Anderson to Hornets

Ryan Anderson has reached agreement with the New Orleans Hornets on a four-year, $36 million contract in a sign-and-trade deal that will send backup center Gustavo Ayon to the Orlando Magic, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

As a restricted free agent, Anderson intended to sign an offer sheet from the Hornets that the Magic didn't want to match. Orlando then decided to negotiate the sign-and-trade.

Anderson, 24, emerged as one of the best long-range shooting big men in the NBA, averaging 16 points and seven rebounds for the Magic last season when he was named the league's Most Improved Player. He shot 43.9 percent from the field, and 39.3 percent on 3-pointers. The Magic drafted St. Bonaventure forward Andrew Nicholson with the 19th overall pick.

Ayon, 27, averaged 5.9 points and 4.9 rebounds in 54 games for t

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