Written by: Matthew Blunk
Wake up, America.
The "Dwightmare" is over.
A trade sending Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers was finalized and approved by the NBA on Friday. The four-team deal sent Howard, forward Earl Clark, and point guard Chris Duhon to L. A.; Philadelphia 76ers swingman Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets; Denver guard Arron Afflalo, forward Al Harrington, Sixers rookie forward Moe Harkless, center Nikola Vucecic, Lakers forward Josh McRoberts, swingman Christian Eyenga, three first-round picks, and two second-round picks to Orlando; and Lakers center Andrew Bynum and Magic guard Jason Richardson to Philadelphia.
This convoluted-as-a-David-Lynch-film deal has major ramifications for the rest of the Association. It means the Lakers have acquired the best big man in the game while also managing to retain Pau Gasol (Orlando surely wished to avoid Gasol's contract to better suit their rebuilding phase). Which, in turn, means the Lakers will boast a front-line of Gasol and Howard. No other power forward-center combination in basketball comes close to that. The purple-and-gold have reloaded in a big way this summer, also bringing in former Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash. Nash and Howard should make huge impacts on the team, particularly on the offense end. Nash will orchestrate a revamped offense, potentially with "Princeton" principles. Howard will man the paint and provide Nash with a 6'11", freakishly-athletic, new pick-and-roll partner. Oh yeah, and they still have Kobe Bryant. Almost forgot.
For Denver, adding Iguodala does not make the Nuggets a championship contender, but it certainly improves the team. He will fit right in with the youthful, athletic Nuggets. Iguodala is one of the best wing defenders in the NBA, and he can be something of a point forward. George Karl wants to out-run opponents, which plays right into Iggy's strengths.
The Sixers get a franchise center they can build around (provided he re-signs next summer). Bynum took a significant step forward last season, making his first All-Star team and becoming a reliable scorer as well as elite post defender. Philadelphia has put together a few young building blocks now, with Bynum, Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, and Lavoy Allen. Is this core good enough to compete? Time will tell. And Bynum will have a lot to say about it.
And so now we come to the Orlando Magic. Did 30-year-old general manager Rob Hennigan get hosed? Did he outsmart himself? I can understand the Magic considering financial flexibility and future draft picks as top priorities, but the trade the Houston Rockets proposed (Kevin Martin's expiring contract, Chandler Parsons, Marcus Morris, Patrick Patterson, and a choice of one or two from the 2012 draft class of Jeremy Lamb, Royce White, and Terrence Jones, in addition to multiple future first-round picks) blew this accepted four-team deal out of the water. Hennigan is now left with three draft picks likely out of the lottery and some decent cap space. This is the best he could come up with? Even the most optimistic of Magic fans have to be disappointed. Somewhere, Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri (architect of the Carmelo Anthony trade) is laughing heartily.
So there you have it, folks - it's all over. Howard is a Laker, Bynum a Sixer, and Iggy a Nugget. And the Magic are left wondering what just happened.
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