Magic trades Howard to the Lakers
Dwight Howard has been traded from the Orlando Magic to the Los Angeles Lakers and will join forces with Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash.
The Howard saga which began last season appears over with a four team trade that included Philadelphia and Denver.
In the deal, Orlando would receive three first round and one second round draft selections as well as Denver’s Aaron Affalo and Al Harrington along with Nikola Veceuic and Moe Harkless from Philadelphia.
The Nuggets take back Andre Iguodala from Philadelphia while the 76ers acquire Andrew Bynum from the Lakers and Jason Richardson from Orlando.
The deal will give Los Angeles the expiring contract of the league’s most dominant centre in Howard, along with Earl Clarke and Chris Duhon, both from the Magic.
The Lakers were willing to part with both Bynum and All Star Pau Gasol to acquire Howard, however Gasol- a two time NBA Champion with the Lakers – was not included in the deal and will remain in LA.
This trade makes the Lakers their most formidable since the early part of the last decade when Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal lead them to three consecutive championships.
Now on the Lakers, Howard follows in similar footsteps to O’Neal who famously left Orlando in 1996 to sign with the Lakers as a free agent.
It has been reported that Howard wouldn’t sign an extension with any team that traded for him, preferring to test free agency at the conclusion of the up-coming season.
Under NBA rules, the Lakers will be able to offer Howard a longer and more lucrative contract than any other team.
With the addition of Steve Nash, who was dealt to Los Angeles last month from the Phoenix Suns, the Lakers are now in the box seat to challenge for the NBA Championship.
A starting line-up that includes Howard, Nash, Bryant, Gasol and Metta World Peace is a significant upgrade over the team that lost in five games to Oklahoma City in the second round of the playoffs last season.
The Lakers also signed veteran Antawan Jamison and re-signed forward Jordan Hill adding depth to a bench that was lacklustre last season.
Although previous reports suggested there was tension between Bryant and Howard, Mark Stein from ESPN reported that Bryant was ‘ecstatic’ at the news that the Lakers were able to get the deal completed and keep Gasol on the roster.
Bryant is looking for championship number six with the Los Angeles, which would make him the only Laker to win six titles with the franchise.
Earlier this year, the Brooklyn Nets offered the Magic centre Brook Lopez as the main piece of a multi-team, multi-player deal that included four first round draft picks for Howard.
The Nets already have a franchise player in Deron Williams and had hoped to add Howard to their roster.
After trading for Atlanta’s Joe Johnson and re-signing Gerald Wallace to an expensive contract the Nets pulled out of the race for Howard when trade talk started to dragged on and re-signed Lopez who was a restricted free agent.
The Lopez deal effectively put an end to any trade for Howard until the new year when newly signed free agents can be dealt.
After advising the Magic he wanted out of Orlando, Howard nominated Brooklyn as his preferred destination but would have also considered the Lakers and Dallas Mavericks.