Brooklyn Nets rumors: Dwight Howard deal positions Nets for big moves in 2019-20

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The latest Brooklyn Nets rumors have the club trading Timofey Mozgov and future picks to the Charlotte Hornets to get Dwight Howard’s expiring contract.

The Brooklyn Nets rumors exploded Wednesday morning when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the team is finalizing a deal with the Charlotte Hornets that would offload disgruntled big man Timofey Mozgov and bring in the expiring contract of Dwight Howard.

Mozgov, first through his agent and later on a personal entry on Scorum, expressed his unhappiness with how his playing time vanished last season.

After beginning the season as a starter, Mozgov played just once after the All-Star break and the Russian center claimed to have never been given an explanation from head coach Kenny Atkinson as to why.

Per Wojnarowski:

The move comes six years after Howard was reportedly set to be coming to the Brooklyn Nets from the Orlando Magic.

Howard is signed for one more year at $23.8 million, which means Brooklyn will cut into the roughly $17 million in cap space it had heading into 2018-19, as Mozgov’s contract for next season was for $16 million, adding $7.8 million to the Nets’ books.

However — and this is an enormous “however — the Nets clear the final $16.72 million of Mozgov’s deal from their 2019-20 cap and, per Wojnarowski’s report, free up enough cap room for that season to open up not one, but two, max salary slots.

It appears the next step of the rebuild is taking shape and general manager Sean Marks has maneuvered Brooklyn back to relevance that much more quickly.

The deal reunites Mozgov with Charlotte GM Mitch Kupchak, who signed him to the ludicrous four-year, $64 million deal in 2016’s Summer of Exploding Cash when the salary cap skyrocketed due to the NBA’s new television deal kicking in.

Howard would appear to be a strange fit for the Nets, given Brooklyn has young center Jarrett Allen. Allen started 31 of the Nets’ final 32 games last season, averaging 10.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks on 62.1 percent shooting in 23.8 minutes per game in that span.

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Howard will be 33 in December and is set to play for his fourth team in four seasons. Next season is the final year of the three-year, $70.5 million contract he signed with the Atlanta Hawks in the Summer of Exploding Cash before being dealt to Charlotte two days before the 2017 NBA Draft.

Last season, Howard started all 81 games in which he played, averaging 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 30.4 minutes per game and shooting 55.5 percent.

He’s not the player who won three straight Defensive Player of the Year awards from 2008-11. His last All-Star appearance and All-NBA selection was in 2014 and he hasn’t been an All-Defensive player since 2011-12.

That said, his performance in Charlotte shows he’s still productive and the Nets have options for 2018-19.

They could form a center tandem with Howard and Allen splitting time, while Allen gets to observe some of the veteran tricks Howard has picked up over the course of 14 NBA campaigns.

Howard has never averaged less than 29.7 minutes per season (2016-17 with the Hawks) and has come off the bench one time in 1,035 career games. So he might not be interested in taking on a reduced role.

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  • If that’s the case, the Nets could simply waive him, eat the $23.8 million cap hit and free up the two max slots for 2019-20. There would be no need to stretch the buyout (nor would that be wise with Deron Williams still showing up on the cap list for the next two years at almost $5.5 million per annum).

    The Hornets entered the offseason determined to dump Howard’s salary and per Wojnarowski, the second-round picks include this year’s No. 45 overall selection, acquired from the Milwaukee Bucks in the Rashad Vaughn deal on Feb. 5, and a 2021 pick.

    Dwight Howard’s name can’t be mentioned without hearing some snickers. At this point, that it what it is and Howard as a player is what he is — an aging former superstar who has enough game to still be a productive piece.

    The deal won’t be completed until after the salary cap moratorium ends on July 6, because the Nets do need some of their expiring contracts to clear before taking on Howard’s contract.

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    Getting that, along with a path to two max salary slots in 2019-20 in exchange for getting rid of a grumbling Timofey Mozgov? Marks deserves high … umm …. marks for his work here.