Road blocks for a Howard swap abundant

CHICAGO -- Dwight Howard wants to be traded.

Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith has given Howard's agent, Dan Fegan, permission to speak with three teams, the Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Lakers and the New Jersey Nets. But with one quote on Saturday evening, Smith put the Chicago Bulls and the rest of the league on notice that just because he gave Fegan permission to speak with three teams doesn't mean the Magic are going to stop looking at all the possibilities about a potential deal.

“We wouldn’t be who we are if we don’t take a look around all 29 teams and try to make the best deal for the Orlando Magic,” Smith said, according to The Associated Press.

Let the Howard-to-the-Bulls rumors fuel up again.

Acquiring Howard has been a huge topic of conversation in Chicago over the past couple weeks. Why wouldn't it be? The idea that a 26-year-old franchise center and a 23-year-old franchise point guard, in Derrick Rose, could team up for years to come has Bulls fans seeing images of championship celebrations in Grant Park again.

Let's make one thing very clear before we go any further. The Bulls would be willing to give up anyone not named Derrick Rose to get Howard. That doesn't necessarily make them that much different than any other team in the league, but having talked repeatedly to Bulls personnel in the past two years, the only untouchable on this roster is Rose. Everyone else is fair game, especially when it comes to landing a player like Howard. Privately, the Bulls always knew they would at least have the pieces to pull off a Howard deal, their fear, like many other teams in the league, was whether or not Howard would sign an extension to stay in Chicago if he were traded here.

That's a key question in this entire process that only Howard knows the answer to. Would he want to come to Chicago and play the second-fiddle role to Rose for the rest of his career? He's made it clear, through Fegan, that he would play in Newark/Brooklyn for the Nets if the right deal could be worked out, so his fear of living in the cold weather appears to be overblown.

What's not overblown is the fact that as much as Bulls fans want Howard to play in Chicago, there are still several huge hurdles to climb in order to make it happen. Not only would Howard have to sign an extension to stay in Chicago, Smith would have to accept a deal from the Bulls to make it work.

Again, according to capologist Larry Coon, in order to make the numbers work in a deal which would include Hedo Turkoglu (there's little doubt the Magic would include Turkoglu's contract in any proposed deal for Howard) the Bulls would give up Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Omer Asik and Taj Gibson, plus probably a draft pick or two. Does Smith really want to build his post-Howard Magic squad around Deng and Noah? Both have had injury problems in the past; but what is surely more alarming to Smith is the fact that Deng and Noah have guaranteed contracts worth more than $100 million over eight years.

Not to mention the fact that Asik and Gibson are due for big raises over the next year. Does Smith really believe that the best deal to make revolves around that kind of guaranteed money within his own conference? Again, does Howard even want to come to the Windy City? Nobody knows the answer to either question right now, but the fact that Howard finally went public with his request for a trade gives Bulls fans hope that anything is possible once again.