Nets excited by prospect of adding Howard

BY foxsports • January 11, 2012

DENVER — Deron Williams thought at first it might be tampering if he talked about Dwight Howard possibly coming to New Jersey. But, no, tampering is a charge executives and coaches really have to worry about, not players.
 
But just to put Williams at ease, the question was phrased as such to the New Jersey point guard: "Would you like a big, tall, talented center?"
 
"I think anybody would want to play with Dwight Howard," Williams said before Nets faced the Nuggets on Wednesday at Denver. "Every player in this league."
 
Of course, the Nets would love to land Howard, the Orlando center who has asked to be dealt. And the Magic have given permission for Howard's agent, Dan Fegan, to talk to the Nets, Lakers and Dallas as the March 15 trade deadline approaches.
 
The Mavericks don't seem to have much of a chance to get Howard because they don't have the assets. So that could make it a two-team race unless Howard, who can opt out of his contract and become a free agent next summer, has a change of heart and reveals a willingness to remain in Orlando.
 
Williams, who has been quite friendly with Howard since the two were Olympic teammates in 2008, had dinner with him when the Nets played two weeks ago at Orlando. He is hardly the only Nets player who wouldn't mind having Howard. The five-time All-Star has been linked to heading to the Nets for center Brook Lopez and other pieces.
 
"You ask anybody in the NBA, and they'd love to have Dwight Howard on their team," Nets guard Jordan Farmar said after being told what Williams said about Howard. "He's about the best center in the league. He makes things easy for you offensively, defensively, rebounding. He creates the game for his teammates for a lot of opportunities."
 
Farmar is one of five New Jersey players remaining from the first half of last season, when rumors floated continuously about the Nets possibly acquiring Carmelo Anthony from Denver. The Nets eventually ended up with Williams in a Feb. 23, 2011 trade from Utah, giving up a similar package they would have for Anthony.
 
Now, the Nets are going through another well-publicized flirtation to acquire an NBA star. So what kind of distraction is this the second time around?
 
"I think everybody here has been through it last year," Farmar sad. "For the most part, we've all been together for a year, so we know what to expect. So we just play. We try to not worry about other stuff."
 
Forward Kris Humphries, another holdover from the start of last season, said it's different because a year ago the Nets were worried about how trade rumors would affect Derrick Favors, who was then a 19-year-old rookie being considered a key piece possibility going to Denver. As it turned out, Favors went to Utah in the Williams deal.
 
"I think it's harder on younger guys to be involved in some of those things, like last year with Favors," Humphries said.
 
As for this season, Humphries said Howard rumors have been less of a distraction because Lopez hasn't played yet because of a broken foot. So there are no daily questions being posed to Lopez about perhaps going to the Magic.
 
Lopez is likely due back in February. When that happens, Humphries figures trade rumors could fire up Lopez.
 
"I think for him it's just motivation to be as dominant as he can be night in and night out," Humphries said.
 
Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com or on Twitter @christomasson.


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