Everyone can finally wake up… the Dwightmare is over!
After what is now months of basketball and media torture, Dwight Howard was traded from the Orlando Magic to the Los Angeles Lakers late Thursday night in a four-team, 8-player trade that also involved the Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers. According to ESPN’s Mark Stein, there is a trade call with the league office scheduled for Friday to secure the necessary NBA approval to make the deal official.
The full, completed trade will look like this:
|76ers||Andrew Bynum, Jason Richardson|
|Magic*||Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless|
|* Magic also will receive a protected 1st-round pick from each of the other three teams|
While many NBA fans will hardly be blindsided by the news of this inevitable Dwight Howard trade, the assessment of the deal should serve as some serious water cooler buzz throughout offices tomorrow morning. By adding Nash and now Howard, are the Lakers now clearly the team to beat? Did the Magic get enough back in return? Will Bynum be happy enough in Philly to sign long-term? Did Denver add enough in Iguodala? All questions to be debated by experts and fans alike.
Here is a preliminary breakdown to what this trade means to each team:
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Obviously, they are the major player in this deal. Basically, they replace Andrew Bynum (and give up a protected first-round pick) with Dwight Howard and somehow manage to keep Pau Gasol in the process, which might very well be the underlying remarkable element to this whole deal. So after acquiring two-time MVP Steve Nash a month ago to come facilitate a new era of Showtime in Los Angeles, the Lakers will send out a starting lineup of Nash, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, likely Metta World Peace and Dwight “I’ll play out the 2012-13 season before deciding how comfortable I am in Los Angeles” Howard. Even after finally being dealt out of Orlando to an instant contender, the guy is still unbelievable.
Kobe Bryant, chasing a gold medal over in London at the moment was apparently “ecstatic” to add a piece like Howard without having to give up Gasol in the process. Wow, do you think?
So now the Lakers, already contenders without this deal, perhaps jump to the top of the Western Conference as favorites over the youthful Oklahoma City Thunder and veteran San Antonio Spurs. While the starting lineup certainly breeds no questions, some may arise about the depth of the bench. Upon reacting to the trade and taking into consideration their draft and offseason moves, I don’t believe they will be quite as thin as some may originally think. Adding Antawn Jamison on the cheap was definitely a key move, while role players like Steve Blake, Jordan Hill, Andrew Goudelock and Josh McRoberts will have the opportunity to solidify their place in the rotation. I even like what the Lakers did in the Draft by grabbing who I think is an underrated Robert Sacre out of Gonzaga and Darius Johnson-Odom from Marquette.
Trust me, the Lakers and their ability to now run an almost-unstoppable pick and roll, will be just fine for a full 48 minutes a game.
I feel like the Nuggets gave up a slightly too much to land just Andre Iguodala in all of this. Aaron Afflalo, who they just signed to a very healthy long-term deal last season, is basically a poor man’s version of Andre Iguodala, without the brand name and the double the price tag.
Their numbers from last season are very comparable, with Afflalo having an advantage in several categories, including scoring and all of the shooting percentages:
Al Harrington, one of the first options off the Denver bench, will be hard to immediately replace with his solid scoring and perimeter shooting. And surely he can’t be thrilled about moving to the rebuilding project in Orlando. It’s also worth being reminded that Denver also gives up a protected first-round pick to the Magic. All of this seems like a lot for Iguodala and doesn’t essentially improve the Nuggets.
Iguodala, an All-Star and also chasing a medal in London, has been on the block for a few seasons now and may finally welcome a move out of Philly.
The Sixers come away from the deal with a young star in Bynum that they can build around… if of course, he wants to stick around after this season. Growing up about an hour away from Philadelphia combined with now having “his own team,” might be reasons for him to play there beyond next season. Also, the idea of being a dominant big man in the Eastern Conference while earning multiple All-Star and potential playoff appearances must be enticing. During this season, Bynum could sign a three-year, $60 million extension or wait until next season when he would be eligible for a five-year, $102 million deal. Regardless, the Sixers were apparently comfortable to roll the dice without Bynum’s commitment.
In Jason Richardson, the Sixers get a veteran scorer with a very favorable contract. Whether he’s a starter like most of his career, or he comes off the bench, he’ll help mentor the team’s younger players at the shooting guard and perhaps even the small forward position. His production has dipped the past couple of seasons, but the Sixers could do worse.
While the Magic are certainly relieved to have this hostage situation behind them now, they immediately enter rebuilding mode and go from the 6th seed in the East to the lottery. Initially there were some reactions that the Magic didn’t get enough back in the deal. I disagree. Getting rid of Howard was the move they were forced (literally) to make and one that I don’t necessarily see as negative. They knew by doing so that they were starting from scratch. By adding veterans Afflalo and Harrington, young guy Nikola Vucevic (who showed some promise last season) and St. Johns rookie Moe Harkless, they pulled in a solid enough mix with guys that can contribute right away and others with the potential to. Does all of it replace Dwight Howard? No, but that wasn’t the goal anyway. I think when you consider that they added three first-round picks, they could be in a very nice position in just a couple of seasons. This season will end up being a long one in Orlando, where the fans have become accustomed to a perennial playoff team.
As Stan Van Gundy is off in a corner weeping, the rest of us can rejoice as the Dwight Howard saga has finally come to and end… until next season.