The Brooklyn Nets moved on from the Dwight Howard derby and signed center Brook Lopez to a max contract on Wednesday, eliminating the one place the Magic center has wanted to go all along. Howard has said he would only sign an extension with the Nets, but that will not stop the Houston Rockets and GM Daryl Morey from his dogged pursuit of the franchise center. Morey is perhaps the most aggressive and active decision-maker in the NBA, and according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, he will up the ante again on Friday by using the amnesty clause on power forward Luis Scola.
Scola is still a productive player and does not have an absolute albatross of a contract, but Morey is simply trying to clear more cap space so that he can take on some undesirable Orlando contracts as part of the package for Howard. Magic GM Rob Hennigan would love the opportunity to unload a few hefty contracts when dealing Dwight, perhaps those of Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, and/or Chris Duhon. Wojnarowski reports that's exactly the play Morey is making by clearing Scola off the books:
The Rockets can absorb Howard's contract, along with Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson. The Rockets are offering multiple first-round picks and a selection of its best, young player assets, sources said.
The Rockets will shed the final three years and $21 million of Scola's contract, and will file the paperwork with the league office on Friday morning. Dumping Scola will push the Rockets far enough under the cap that they'll be able to take on multiple contracts from the Magic in a trade for Howard, and still have the space to sign a maximum contract player next summer.
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