According to the latest report from RealGM's Jarrod Rudolph, an Orlando-based writer who broke the news that Howard would opt-in to the final year of his contract with the Magic, the All-NBA center is now willing to sign a long-term extension with the LA Lakers:
Sources: Dwight Howard is ready to join Lakers. If traded to Los Angeles Howard will re-sign long-term with team after 2012-13 season.— Jarrod N Rudolph (@JRudolphSports) July 19, 2012
However, while Howard has been notoriously reluctant to play out in LA, his extension is only the second most important domino in any possible trade.
If Orlando acquires Andrew Bynum, they'll be undergoing the same scenario they are dealing with in Bynum, who is set to be a free agent and would seem unlikely to sign a long-term extension with a Magic team who weren't enough to keep Howard in town.
That's why the Cleveland Cavaliers emerged as a possible third-team in a deal who would take on Bynum and then flip a few first-round picks and Anderson Varejao to Orlando. However, while this scenario is probably the ideal situation for Howard, which is why his people are likely pushing this story out, it still doesn't make all that sense for the Magic.
None of the potential trade scenarios sending Howard to either New York or LA would bring in anywhere close to the amount of assets (future first-round picks, high-upside young players, salary cap space) that the Houston Rockets could give.
So while Howard and the Lakers are ready to move forward, there's no reason to think Bynum and the Magic are, which means this deal is probably as dead as the one that would have sent him to the Nets for a package built around Brook Lopez and a few late first-round picks.
The Rockets scenario is still the best-case scenario for Mavericks fans if they are hoping to poach Howard. However, if Bynum is dealt, he'd be just as coveted on the free agent market and would immediately become Dallas' biggest target in the summer of 2013.