The trade that was once all but done is now on death's door, as the Brooklyn Nets, according to a report from ESPN's Ric Bucher, want "resolution" on their pursuit of Dwight Howard by the end of business Wednesday.
Now that the moratorium on signing free agents is over, Brooklyn can't wait any longer on making a deal with Orlando because it depends on signing-and-trading several of their own free agents who may accept offer sheets from other teams.
The most prominent is Brook Lopez, whom the team is negotiating a max-level contract extension, despite his lack of production and injury history over the last two seasons. The restricted free agent would have been the centerpiece of any deal sending Howard to Brooklyn, and without him in the picture, there's no way for the Nets, who are now way over the salary cap, to absorb Howard's contract.
This is great news for Dallas, as Brooklyn was the one team who Howard has said he will sign a contract extension with, which would give the Mavericks an avenue to pursue the All-NBA C when his contract expires at the end of the season.
The Magic are now likely to pursue some sort of three-team deal with the Houston Rockets and the LA Lakers, which would affect the Mavericks other likely target, Lakers C Andrew Bynum. Dallas would likely to pursue whichever of the enigmatic free agent C's -- Howard or Bynum -- ends up in Houston in such a deal, counting on the team's higher media profile and the presence of another legitimate superstar in Dirk to be the difference.
Of course, this strategy didn't exactly work with Deron Williams, but it does offer some hope. And after one of the darkest weeks in franchise history, hope is all Mavericks fans have left.