The Nets and the Magic are discussing a trade that would send Howard to Brooklyn for Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and the Nets' first-round draft picks in 2013, 2015 and 2017, sources said. Lopez and Humphries, who are both free agents, would go to Orlando in sign-and-trade deals.
No trade is imminent, and the Nets are looking for a third team to help facilitate a potential trade for Howard.
The Nets are trying to pull off their second blockbuster trade this week and give themselves a big three of Howard, Deron Williams, who agreed to terms Tuesday, according to sources, and Joe Johnson that could rival the NBA champion Miami Heat's heralded trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
In fact, the Nets would actually have a big four as they move into their first season in Brooklyn. Sources said that forward Gerald Wallace has agreed to a four-year, $40 million deal to stay with the Nets.
On Monday, the Nets agreed to terms with the Hawks on a trade that sends Johnson to Brooklyn for the expiring contracts of Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow and Jordan Williams, plus DeShawn Stevenson and the 2013 first-round pick they acquired from Houston.
If consummated, a trade to Brooklyn would give Howard what he has wanted for the past seven months. In December, Howard asked the Magic to trade him to the Nets.
After waiving his opt-out clause for next season in March, he again asked Orlando several times to trade him to the Nets, most recently Friday in his first face-to-face meeting with new Magic general manager Rob Hennigan.
On Monday, Howard told Yahoo! Sports that he would sign a long-term contract only with the Nets, but after the Nets' trade with Atlanta for Johnson, the chances of Howard going to Brooklyn appeared dead.
In fact, several executives involved in the talks privately said there was no chance of Howard being traded to the Nets.
But the two clubs eventually rekindled talks about a potential Howard move.
The Dallas Mavericks, who could sign Howard as a free agent next summer, have also emerged as a potential team for Howard.