When I was growing up, I played a lot of sports video games: Madden, NBA 2K, FIFA, maybe some NHL here and there.
It finally happened. Dwight Howard is reportedly a Los Angeles Laker after a four team trade was agreed upon in principle by the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers.
In what has been a six month-long rollercoaster of rumor, emotion and frustration for NBA fans, Orlando have finally decided to bite the bullet and ship out the best center in the NBA for scraps on the dollar.
After months and months, and months and months of negotiations, who knew that the key pieces required for Orlando to finally move Dwight Howard would involve a pair of Nuggets role players in Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington?
The framework in the deal involves Howard, Chris Duhon and Earl Clark moving to LA, Andre Igoudala heading to Denver, Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson to the 76ers and Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless and a protected first round pick from each team going to Orlando.
For the Lakers, 76ers and Nuggets this deal is a total no-brainer. For the Magic, it’s part perplexing and part infuriating to say the least, particularly for non-Laker fans.
It’s the Shaq scenario from 1996 all over again. When Shaq left Florida for Hollywood in his prime Orlando received nothing in return. Now Dwight Howard has left Florida for Hollywood in his prime, and again, Orlando receive nothing in return.
There’s no valuable first round picks, no instant cap relief, no all-star calibre talent, not even anything remotely close to resembling equal value.
Orlando could have taken back a buffet of young talent and the ability to dump cap crippling contracts on a more than willing Houston Rockets franchise. If the Magic preferred proven talent, Brooklyn were more than willing to accommodate a deal.
The Magic’s reasoning for rejecting a trade based around the Nets Brook Lopez was contract related. Lopez will be owed $58 million over the next four years, compared to the Harrington and Afflalo combination which combines for roughly $54 million. Would you prefer to roll into the upcoming NBA season with Arron Afflalo or a 24-year-old 7’0” Brook Lopez as the cornerstone of your franchise?
Afflalo is a complimentary wing player and his Denver teammate Al Harrington a career chucker who at age 32 still has three years remaining on his contract.
The 76ers Nikola Vucevic was the 16th pick in last years NBA draft and although at times looked productive, has all the makings of a lifetime seventh man at best. Moe Harkless is a 19-year-old project who was selected by Philadelphia with the 15th pick in this years draft. Harkless has plenty of potential but his ceiling is a lot closer to Trevor Ariza than it is Andre Igoudala.
The three first round draft picks the Magic will receive are all heavily protected and from expected playoff teams, in other words, they have as much value as a broken lightbulb. You aren’t drafting a starter let alone a star with the 22nd, 25th and 30th picks in the draft. Trying to justify this trade based on draft picks is flawed logic.
This deal happily fits in with the Dirk Nowitzki for Robert Traylor, Dr J to Philadelphia, Tyrus Thomas for LaMarcus Aldridge and Pippen for Polynice realm of nightmare trades.
As for Laker fans, start running the champagne bath. LA will roll into next season with a core of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace, and Antawn Jamison. Not much else needs to be said.
The Los Angeles Lakers do not rebuild, they reload.
An underrated aspect of the Dwight Howard trade is just how well the other two teams involved make out. Philadelphia will add a 24-year-old seven footer in Bynum who just so happens to be the second best centre in the league, all whilst giving up an aging defensive wing with $30 million left on his contract in Andre Igoudala.
Philly will start their campaign with Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Spencer Hawes and Bynum, with instant scoring punch off the bench in Jason Richardson, Dorrell Wright and Nick Young. The 76ers gave themselves a positive face lift this off-season, one that makes them younger and much more dynamic.
Denver will shred two role players and an extra two years of salary totaling $35 million for a substantial talent upgrade in Igoudala. This deal also allows them to comfortably re-sign Ty Lawson to an extension next year. A nucleus of Lawson, Igoudala, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee, with role players Andre Miller, Corey Brewer and Wilson Chandler as solid depth will again see Denver troubling teams in the Playoffs.
To Orlando Magic fans, I am sorry. Rob Hennigan’s first move as General Manager was to re-sign often injured and mildly average point guard Jameer Nelson for $25 million.
Hennigan’s first trade is one that makes three playoff teams substantially better whilst plunging his own franchise into complete and utter irrelevancy.
According to Yahoo Sports Adrian Wojnarowki, the final deal the Nets had rejected in July involved Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, Marshon Brooks and four unprotected first round picks going to Orlando in exchange for Dwight Howard, Jason Richardson, Chris Duhon and Earl Clark.
There’s smart trades, there’s dumb trades, and then there’s Orlando Magic trades…