Dwight Howard finally got traded. So now we all can get on with our lives, his “Indecision” is now over after a blockbuster 4-team deal brings him to Lakerland where he will join forces with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol (how is this even possible?). Before I break down what the deal means for each team, below are all the players and draft picks involved. David Stern is cringing somewhere trying to comprehend this trade.
Lakers receive: Dwight Howard, Chris Duhon, Earl Clark
Magic receive: Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Josh McRoberts, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless, Christian Eyenga, 3 protected 1st round draft picks (1 from each team), 2 2nd round draft picks
Sixers receive: Andrew Bynum, Jason Richardson
Nuggets receive: Andre Iguodala
Los Angeles Lakers – Is it possible for General Manager of the 2012-2013 season to be locked up already? Because Mitch Kupchak is making a phenomenal case for that award right now. With Kupchak’s moves, the Lakers have gone from a respected but not serious championship contender to possibly the favorites to win coming into next season. Steve Nash for 4 draft picks and now Dwight Howard suiting up for the purple and gold without having to give up Pau Gasol sounds like an excellent summer to me. The Lakers also received Chris Duhon (completely and uttlerly useless at this stage of his career) and Earl Clark, who actually could turn into a decent backup but is far from the main attraction. With the addition of Dwight Howard, the Lakers become an even more problematic team on both ends of the court to contend with. On the defensive end, Dwight Howard will mask much of the Lakers weaknesses on that end. Teams can no longer pick and roll them to death and with D12’s shot-blocking and rebounding prowess, the Lakers will be a defensive force. Not to mention coach Mike Brown hangs his hat on his defensive schemes, with the 3-time Defensive Player of the Year anchoring the paint the Lakers will be difficult to light up. Now on the offensive side of the ball; picture the many looks the Lakers can give opponents, I’m having visions of pick and roll being run to perfection with Steve Nash and Dwight, Pau Gasol at the high post and Kobe Bryant on the wings, just think about that for a second. The YouTube link in the last sentence is p&r run with JJ Redick, this is infinitely scarier as a defense with one of the best point guards of all time running it. While Dwight Howard does not have the post repertoire of Andrew Bynum, he is still a high percentage scorer (57.7 percent from the field over his career) and commands a double team. With an all time legend running the point, Dwight Howard’s skills will be maximized offensively. With 4 guys capable of being a first option on any given night, there will naturally be some sacrifice in order for the Lakers to reach their vast potential but this trade was an absolute no brainer for L.A..
While Dwight Howard seems set on exploring free agency next summer, does anyone really believe he will leave the glits and glamour that comes with being a Laker? Nevermind the fact that he would be sacrificing money to leave, he gets to perform in one of the two biggest media markets in the country (New York being the other) and will be playing on a team very capable of winning a championship.
Orlando Magic – Any time you can turn the best big man in the NBA into the pu pu platter that is Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga, Moe Harkless and draft picks that very likely won’t be before the 20’s, you have to do it right? I’ll stop being facetious now, it is obvious that new GM Rob Hennigan is trying to build from the ground up. I don’t need to rehash the whole Dwight Howard fiasco leading to this trade so I will focus on the future ramifications for Orlando. At first glance, it appears that Orlando is maybe getting 10 cents on the dollar and one would be correct to assume as much. None of the players the Magic received currently are or project to be superstars, though Moe Harkless has potential to be a very solid swingman some day. Arron Afflalo is a solid role player, one who plays strong defense and can hit the three and Al Harrington who is a nice, instant offense 6th man type player. Nikola Vucevic showed flashes of potential in limited playing time for Philadelphia last season averaging 5.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in less than 16 minutes a contest. The Magic will also receive 3 1st round draft picks (all of which are protected) and 2 2nd round picks in this deal. While Orlando could have received much more talent in return for Dwight Howard, they were able to rid themselves of some questionable contracts (Jason Richardson, Chris Duhon) and will have maximum cap room for the 2013 off-season. Orlando has always been a friendly destination for free agents, with the warm climate and no state tax the Magic shouldn’t struggle to improve their team through free agency, especially considering that they can free up even more money if they choose to cut partially guaranteed deals to both Harrington and Hedo Turkoglu. I’m sure Magic fans while not satisfied with the return they got for Dwight Howard are happy that they can finally sleep at night knowing this situation is over. I’m sure they will be ready to shower Howard with boos when he returns to Orlando on March 12th.
Grade: D, I’m not giving an F only because if Hennigan hits on these future draft picks the outlook is much less pessimistic in Orlando.
Philadelphia 76ers- I for one think the Sixers front office did an excellent job in this trade. For all of the concerns that come with Andrew Bynum, mainly his attitude and his injury history, he is an immensely talented post player and immediately becomes Philadelphia’s first legitimate go to player since the beloved Allen Iverson. He should be able to average 20 and 10 easily on his new team and will appreciate being the number one option which is something he would never be in Los Angeles so long as Kobe Bryant is still a Laker. The Sixers also acquired Jason Richardson in this deal, while JRich at 31 has seen better days as a basketball player he will be a great complement to Bynum as someone that can space the floor as a three point specialist and is an undervalued component of this trade. For everything Andre Iguodala did well as a defender and a playmaker, he was miscast as the go-to guy for the Sixers for years and received his fair share of criticism in his eight years in Philadelphia. The Sixers never made it past the second round of the playoffs throughout Iguodala’s tenure in Philadelphia and this transaction signifies the beginning of a new era, one that Sixers faithful should be very excited about. Bynum instantly makes the Sixers a threat in the East and while they are not in the class of the Miami Heat, they should project to win around 50 games this season and fight for a high playoff seed.
It is unclear whether Andrew Bynum will choose to sign an extension with Philadelphia but much like in Howard’s situation, he would be turning down millions of dollars if he leaves after the 2013 season. Plus growing up an hour outside of Philly can’t hurt, right?
Denver Nuggets – While the Nuggets clearly upgraded in talent, acquiring 2012 All-Star and Olympian Andre Iguodala, it did come at a cost of helping a conference foe get significantly better as well. I’m sure General Manager Masai Ujiri will live with the trade-off however, Iguodala is a picture perfect fit for the up-tempo style George Karl employs and the Nuggets save money long term on this deal, shedding the contracts of Afflalo and Harrington. Iguodala quietly had the best three point shooting percentage of his career this season (39.4 percent from deep) and is an elite defensive stud. While he only averaged 10 shot attempts a game, he averaged 12.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists for the Sixers in 2011-2012 and is no longer in a situation where he is expected to be a heavy scorer as he was circa 2006-2010 in Philadelphia. With great point guard play from Ty Lawson and Andre Miller at his side, I expect an uptick in Andre’s scoring in 2013. A starting lineup of Javale McGee, Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler/Danilo Gallinari, Andre Iguodala and Ty Lawson is young, scary athletic and should be an incredibly fun team to watch this upcoming season. Masai Ujiri has done a masterful job building this Denver Nuggets team since trading Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks in February 2011 and while they are likely not a championship threat, this team is an unenviable match-up on any given night.