"The Nets are backing Brook Lopez while doubting that Dwight Howard will ever become available, even as the Lakers crumble and Howard's camp pines for Brooklyn.
According to multiple team sources, the Nets have not engaged in trade talks for Howard and remain skeptical the Lakers will deal their center by next month's deadline. They've also talked privately with Lopez about the circumstances, reassuring him that he's not involved in any trade proposals after he signed a four-year, $61 million deal.
Still, the acrimony in Los Angeles between Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard — as well as the center's reported discontent with Mike D'Antoni's system — continues to fuel speculation that the Lakers will trade Howard instead of losing him for nothing this summer in free agency. The Orange County Register reported Tuesday that Howard has joked about Bryant's shot selection behind his back, "making teammates uncomfortable." A league source told the Daily News that Howard and Bryant had a heated exchange after a game on New Year's Day, during which Bryant called his teammate "soft."
Brooklyn has always been Howard's preferred destination, but a team source shot down an Internet report from Tuesday claiming the Nets were pursuing a three-team deal that would land Howard and ship Lopez to Minnesota.