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Stein: Nets' Deal Best for Magic

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Marc Stein broke the story about the Nets' planned offer for Dwight Howard. Later Wednesday, he told ESPN Radio that he thinks the Magic will soon trade Dwight Howard. And if the Nets offer Brook Lopez, two first round picks and other assets for Howard and Hedo Turkoglu, Stein says the Magic should take it. It's likely the best deal they'll get.

"I think they’re going to trade him now," Stein told Doug Gottlieb, citing Magic GM Otis Smith's comments to the Orlando Sentinel earlier in the day.

Stein dismissed the idea that the Knicks, Clippers or Lakers will offer a better deal than the Nets. "A young center in Brook Lopez and two first round picks AND the Nets willingness to take back Hedo’s contract combined with Orlando’s ability to use the amnesty provision on Gilbert Arenas – Orlando really would have a chance to start off with financial flexibility."

However, Stein's colleague, Chris Broussard, said on another ESPN Radio program that the Nets aren't even in Howard's top three and it's more likely that Chris Paul goes to the Knicks than Howard goes to the Nets.

Here's a transcript of the key part of the interview, thanks to Anthony Perez:

Gottlieb: Marc, if you had to guess, where does Dwight Howard play at the end of the season?

Stein: I think they’re going to trade him now. I thought Orlando would really be stubborn with this and take an approach similar to Toronto with Chris Bosh, but Otis Smith has kind of shocked us today and told the Orlando Sentinel – you know, this is the first day team executives can talk to the press – and he told his local paper, ‘Look, we want to keep Dwight Howard, but if we have to trade him and realize it’s impossible to keep him, we will do it.’

And that’s really the first time Otis Smith has talked like that and I think he sees the inevitable here. Dwight Howard wants to go to a major market, he wants to end up with the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, or Nets, who are forcing their way in now (?); and he wants to end up in LA or NY and you have to believe that’s the way this story is going to end.

Gottlieb: So if you had to guess – because I just don't see how the Knicks can put any kind of offer together – will they take on a couple of bad contracts from the Lakers and maybe Andrew Bynum or do they take some young players from the Clippers? Isn’t that the choice?

Stein: Well, I feel the Clippers think they have the cap space to wait this thing out and make a play in the summer time, which is of course risky if Dwight ends up getting traded somewhere he likes. We have the story today on ESPN.com about the offer the Nets are putting together and frankly look, you’re not going to get equal value for Dwight Howard, but a young center in Brook Lopez and 2 1st round picks AND the Nets willingness to take back Hedo’s contract combined with Orlando’s ability to use the amnesty provision on Gilbert Arenas – Orlando really would have a chance to start off with financial flexibility and a decent big man and some good draft picks…I think that’s a decent starting point.

I think that offer is better than anything the Lakers can put on the table because Bynum still has durability issues and Pau Gasol is not the dominant player he was a year or two ago. It’s a difficult decision because there’s no slam dunk option out there, but you just have to make the best of the situation the way Denver did with Carmelo Anthony.