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Are Lakers Afraid That Howard Would Just Be A Rental?

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In a thorough review of various Dwight Howard scenarios, ESPN's cap expert Larry Coon drops this nugget: "A source close to the negotiations says Howard's representatives warned the Lakers that Howard would opt out of his contract and test the free-agent market next summer -- which has the Lakers' brass understandably nervous."

Howard's agent Dan Fegan was given permission in December to speak with the Lakers, Mavs and Nets about possible deals, but Dallas doesn't have the assets to offer to the Magic.

"A team like the Nets or Lakers would want assurances from Howard's people that he would re-sign before they commit significant assets to a trade," Coon writes. "The Nets may have received this sort of assurance. The Lakers, Clippers and Bulls have not."

Meanwhile, John Hollinger proposes a Nets-Bucks trade (Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow and Damion James for Stephen Jackson, Beno Udrih and Jon Brockman), and concludes that a Howard-to-the-Nets deal has become "the best deal on the board," because MarShon Brooks "has given the Nets another tantalizing piece to put into a Howard deal."

Hollinger's Nets-Magic proposal is Brook Lopez, Brooks, Kris Humphries, Mehmet Okur and four first-round picks for Howard, Hedo Turkoglu and Chris Duhon.