Ending the latest “’LET’S GET THIS MOTHER OVER WITH ALREADY!!” sports issue, the Lakers received Dwight Howard, in a four team deal that will send at least a dozen players and picks across the NBA and the country. What is very unusual about this deal is I can’t see any team that got the better of it; every team received a solid player, someone who can contribute, and gave up pieces comparable to what they received.
Look at what the Lakers got: a one year rental on Dwight Howard, and not only that, but a justification to finally trade away Andrew Bynum, who has alternated between being a boon for them, and a major thorn in their side. You started to get the sense from the Lakers that even if Howard’s only there a year, being able to get rid of Bynum justifies this trade. Even though Howard wouldn’t sign the extension, it is not inherently a bad thing, since whether or not he re-signs with the Lakers determines their path for the near future. He re-signs, they start rebuilding with him as a centerpiece, and work towards the graceful exit and retirement of Kobe Bryant, and his generation on the Lakers. He doesn’t re-sign, then they start picking up younger talent that complements Kobe and eventually have them take over.
The two other teams in this deal are the Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers. Despite the fact that they will likely not be the focus, their value in this arrangement cannot be understated; they saw pieces on the table and jumped for them, and in turn were able to get rid of some pieces they may have been looking to rid themselves of for a while. The 76ers landed Andrew Bynum, who like Howard is a rental, but they obviously see enough value to justify it. The Nuggets got Andre Iguodala, who will be a factor in their team’s success in the coming season.
Finally, we jump to Orlando, and the Magic, who would have told Dwight not to let the door hit his backside on the way out… if he weren’t in Los Angeles already. Anyway, what do they care? They got a king’s ransom out of the deal: several players, three first round draft picks (albeit protected ones), and the assurance that they now have the ability to seriously rebuild. Oh, they got the diva out of the building, too, which considering they have a new GM and a new head coach, is far better than leaving him there. The Magic managed a clean reboot from the old regime.
For the Los Angeles Lakers and the Orlando Magic, both sides got precisely what they wanted. The Lakers got a shot in the arm for what could be Kobe’s final championship run, and the Magic got the chance to rebuild, relatively fresh, and move on, hopefully having learned from their experience with Howard. Quite frankly, that is what both sides wanted.
Barring an issue with David Stern, and don’t say it’s a slam dunk (remember the Chris Paul trade to the Lakers?), this deal will have long-reaching consequences for the NBA as a whole. I imagine general managers in the Eastern Conference calling the Magic to thank them for getting Howard of the East. I imagine Jerry Buss taking the Lakers GM out to dinner and toasting his shrewdness. I foresee the Lakers being a devastating starting line up, led by the superstar Kobe Bryant, actively supported by the brilliant Steve Nash, and anchored by the heavyweight Dwight Howard. Finally, let’s not forget the players sent to the Nuggets and Sixers; the potential storylines are endless. Hopefully, we see a few juicy ones play out.