Dwight Howard got his way on Thursday night. He is no longer a member of the Orlando Magic.
In what shapes up to be a potentially league-altering blockbuster trade involving four teams, Howard will follow the path of the last self-proclaimed "Superman" center to leave Orlando. Just like Shaq, Howard is now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. The deal will reportedly also involve the Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers.
According to reports, the deal breaks down this way:
- LAKERS receive Dwight Howard, Chris Duhon, Earl Clark
- NUGGETS receive Andre Iguodala
- SIXERS receive Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson
- MAGIC receive Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Moe Harkless, Nikola Vucevic, Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga, a protected 1st round pick from LA, Denver and Philly and two 2nd round picks.*
(Friday Update - McRoberts, Eyenga, Duhon and Clark have been included in the deal, as well as two additional second round picks heading to Orlando. The five picks Orlando will receive will reportedly be spread out over five years.)
This deal is impressive on so many levels it's hard to easily break down... but I'll try anyway.
The Lakers have already added point guard Steve Nash and veteran forward Antawn Jamison, and didn't have to part ways with both of their big men in the deal. Pau Gasol had floated around rumors all year, but remains in LA. The Lakers keep Kobe Bryant, still have two seven-footers, and now have a dominant center to patrol the paint.
Whether or not LA is good enough to knock Oklahoma City out of the top spot in the Western Conference is debatable, but they're certainly now part of the conversation regarding the best teams in the NBA.
For Orlando, the deal is clearly dumping a superstar that couldn't come back. Howard poured gasoline, lit a few matches and threw a party while any bridges he had to the Magic burned this summer. The Magic will get Philly's first round pick, Harkless, and a few role players to go with three future first round picks and a couple second round picks. The rebuild has officially started in Orlando.
But for me, the two teams that were added to the deal to make the transaction work is where the real intrigue rests.
Philadelphia took advantage of the DRose-less Bulls in the playoffs, but decided to immediately blow up their roster. They used their amnesty to dump veteran Elton Brand and have now traded their all-star, Iguodala (who happens to be in London with the Olympic team). Philly will now run Bynum out with a young core that includes Jrue Holiday, Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner.
In an Eastern Conference lacking big men and with a number of question marks heading into the coming season, Philly added a couple good pieces that might push them higher than the eight seed in next year's postseason.
Denver, quietly, might end up being the biggest winner of this deal.
The Nuggets were the sixth seed in the Western Conference last season, and led the NBA in team scoring. What they lacked was defense; they allowed 101.2 points per game, which ranked 29th in the NBA. They gave up basically nothing - only Afflalo and a protected pick - to acquire a shut-down defender in Iguodala. Iguodala ranked sixth in the NBA last year, averaging 1.73 steals per game.
Perhaps more important - and impressive - Iguodala ranked second in the NBA in steal-to-personal foul ratio (1.16) behind only LeBron James. His 0.93 steal-to-turnover ratio ranked 16th in the NBA. Afflalo is a nice shooting guard who averaged 15 points per game last year, but Iguodala fills a desperate need for a team that could make some noise in a deep Western Conference.
This deal will send shockwaves through the league over the rest of the offseason. Howard has finally been dealt, and once the gold medal is decided in London the dust might begin to settle before the season gets started again in October.