The Bulls believe they have enough young pieces to complete a trade for the perennial All-Star. They will have conversations in the coming days with Magic GM Otis Smith about putting together a package for the talented big man, according to a league source.
Howard told the media on Saturday he has formally asked to be traded.
"The last couple of weeks before training camp were very tough," Howard told the Associated Press, explaining his decision. "Just stressed out about it. Got sick, couldn't sleep. It was a very stressful time. After I said what I said to Otis, got it out -- I started feeling better."
Smith said the team will move forward.
"When you invest seven years in a player and that's what he decides, then you have to deal with that from that angle. But it's not the end of the world," Smith said, according to the Associated Press. "Like I said before, the Orlando Magic franchise is what it's about. We like to make this into an individual game, but the fact of the matter is it's a team sport. And we'll continue to move forward. "
The Bulls figure to offer Smith anyone on their roster in order to make the deal work, with the exception of reigning NBA MVP, Derrick Rose.
In addition to agreeing to terms of a trade with Orlando, acquiring Howard likely will take a bit of salesmanship from the Bulls. On Friday, the Magic granted the New Jersey Nets, Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers permission to talk to Howard's agent, Dan Fegan, about possible deals. New Jersey, with whom Fegan reportedly met on Thursday, presently looks to be the front-runner for his services.
The Bulls have yet to speak to Fegan about a deal nor have they received permission from Orlando to do so, the source said.
"It's our job to be in touch with all 29 teams around the league and we have been in the last week," Bulls general manager Gar Forman said. "But I wouldn't mention individual names or share our business or who we're talking with as far as players are concerned. But we're having conversations throughout the league."
If the Bulls were able to speak to Fegan, the source said their main selling point would be that with Rose and Howard, Chicago would have a nucleus capable of winning an NBA title. In many ways, the Bulls' pitch, if they do indeed get to make one, could sound a lot like the one they made to free agents LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in the summer of 2010. Both James and Wade spurned the Bulls last summer to sign with the Miami Heat.
The Bulls aren't atop Howard's wish list at the moment, but that doesn't their potential offer wouldn't be appealing from Orlando's vantage point. Smith noted Saturday that the Magic will explore every possible option.
"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 Orlando Sentinel.
It is unclear at this point whether Howard, slated to be a free agent at season's end, would be willing to sign an extension with the Bulls, especially given he has already given Fegan his preferred destinations. It's also highly unlikely the Bulls would make the deal without knowing for certain that Howard would sign the extension.
Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com.