It was a chapter that needed an ending. After months of much discussion, rumours and innuendo and mixed messages, Dwight Howard will now join the 17-time NBA championship winning Los Angeles Lakers for the 2012-13 NBA season.
Finally, Howard has moved on and the Orlando Magic can focus on what’s ahead.
ESPN’s Marc Stein was first to announce the deal that will officially be stamped with league approval in the coming days when the paperwork is delivered to head office.
The trade involved four teams and eight players. Here are the details:
The Lakers give up Andrew Bynum and a protected 2017 first-round draft pick, and receive Howard.
The Denver Nuggets give up Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington and a protected first-round draft pick, and receive Andrew Iguodala.
The Philadelphia 76ers give up Iguodala, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless and a protected first-round draft pick (that can be no earlier than 2015), and receive Bynum and Jason Richardson.
The Magic give up Howard and Richardson, and receive Afflalo, Harrington, Vucevic, Harkless and three protected first-round draft picks.
So what does this all mean?
The Sixers improved. They landed an elite player in Bynum. Last year head coach Doug Collins extracted more from his team than expected and now they have a star, thus Phillie fans can forget the Elton Brand and Kwame Brown transactions. They could’ve not done this deal.
Denver also improved their roster, even more so defensively – a severely needed capability that was lacking (19th in defensive efficiency last season). The Nuggets were already an exhilarating team to watch – add Iggy and the excitement levels soar. However, and this is a big HOWEVER, Denver front office just assisted their conference opponents (Lakers) in their tilt for championship trophy number 18.
The Lakers, if they gel, become the team to beat. They obtain Steve Nash and now Howard, plus they didn’t have to upset Kobe Bryant by giving away Pau Gasol. Head coach Mike Brown has adopted the Princeton offense and throw out the triangle version, Kobe will be able to play off the ball and defensively, LA just received a one man wrecking machine. The Lakers never stop wowing us. The two key acquisitions bring back memories of 1996. What happened in that year? Jerry West, then GM of the Lakers, sent Vlade Divac away in return for Bryant, signed free agent Shaquille O’Neal as well as bringing onboard the Zen master, Phil Jackson. There will be questions all the way up until opening day – what will the dynamic be like between Kobe and Howard? Will Kobe and Nash mesh? In the end though, they’re good questions to have.
The Magic, oh the Magic – they gave away everything bar the towels in the locker room. They gained some cap room savings, some, and the draft picks as mentioned above – make that six if you put Harkless, the 15th overall pick in the 2012 draft, into that category. In short, Orlando GM Rob Hennigan wanted draft picks similar to how the Thunder went about it several years back. He wanted cap space. And, he wanted Bynum. What he achieved for Orlando were low draft picks, minor cap relief, and no Bynum or Gasol. Hennigan can expect backlash from the fans and a playoffs-less season.
As one chapter closes, another will begin. The season will play out and then the following pages in the book will be determined by if the Lakers win it all or fall short. But for now, the Dwight Howard whining period from Orlando is finally over.