After months of rumors, speculation, name-calling, indecision, and about 100 different reports from Woj, the biggest storyline and the biggest headache of 2012 is now over with as Dwight Howard will be officially be a Los Angeles Laker as soon as today.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Laker, Magic, 76ers and Nuggets will place a trade call sometime today and announce the trade to the league office for approval. Assuming David Stern wants to keep Laker fans from storming his office like an angry mob, the trade will be approved.
Here is the framework of the deal:
Lakers receive: Dwight Howard, Chris Duhon, Earl Clark
Magic receive: Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless, Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga, three first-round draft picks and a 2013 second-round pick
76ers receive: Andrew Bynum, Jason Richardson
Nuggets receive: Andre Iguodala
As you already know, this sets the stage for the Nash/Howard pick-and-roll, which will rival any other pick-and-roll ever run in the history of basketball, I’d imagine. I’m a big fan of Andrew Bynum’s game but he’s a slowfooted big man where as Dwight is unbelievably mobile. With a point guard that needs his big men to be able to run and screen for him quickly at any moment, Howard is a much better fit offensively and in the event that the Lakers want to slow things down and run things through the post, he offers the same kind of productivity on the block that Bynum does, even if common perception would have you believe otherwise. Dwight’s mobility will be even more important defensively. With everybody else in the starting line-up being over 30 years old and a bit slow defensively, the Lakers would have relied on Bynum to be a fierce rim protector this season, something his lateral quickness will never allow him to be. Howard, on the other hand, is the best defensive big man of this era and should rack up another defensive player of the year trophy this season.
I didn’t think it was possible for the Lakers to downgrade their point guard position after getting rid of Derek Fisher last year and Ramon Sessions this off-season but they tried their best by acquiring Chris Duhon. Of course, he won’t have a role with the team from the start and even in the event of an injury, second year player Darius Morris figures to have a better shot at playing time than Duhon. Earl Clark isn’t likely to have a role either, but if the Lakers can’t pick up a two guard like Jodie Meeks to back-up Kobe then Devin Ebanks could slide to the back-up two position and Clark could pick-up whatever small forward minutes are left behind.
Hit the jump for the rest of Mark’s piece…
For the Magic, this is obviously a disaster haul, especially if the first round picks are lottery protected as it’s been reported. They were only able to offload one of their bad contracts (Richardson) and they ended up taking back two of them (Afflalo and Harrington). Afflalo has four years and $30 million left on his deal and Harrington has three years and $21 million left. And the best player they got back Nikola Vucevic. I’m not sure why Orlando didn’t just focus on accomplishing a Bynum-for-Howard swap with the Lakers taking back Hedo or Richardson (maybe they’d take back Metta World Peace, too, but that’s not so bad compared to what actually happened). It appears as if the Magic would be best of tanking this season but the way they’ve constructed their roster gives the impression that they actually plan on being competitive. Why else would you take back Afflalo and Harrington and re-sign Jameer Nelson? The Magic royally screwed this situation up and I’d imagine they’ll be feeling the aftereffects of this deal for a few years.
I like this deal for Philly even if it meant giving up Iguodala. The writing has been on the wall for his departure for a couple of seasons now and it doesn’t necessarily end on bad terms as he’ll get to flourish more than ever in Denver (more on that tomorrow). I’m very interested to see how Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner, who will undoubtedly be the primary ball-handlers on this team now that Iguodala and Lou Williams are gone. I thought Philly was at their best last season when they went without a true center like Elton Brand or Lavoy Allen so how Doug Collins works a plodding yet effective post scorer like Bynum in will be something to watch. If they don’t hinder their respective developmental paths, that could be a pretty killer trio going forward with excellent support players like Dorell Wright, Thaddeus Young and Allen.
After hijacking the off-season, it it nice to see this finally this sage come to an end. But even though the Dwightmare may be over, a nightmare has just begun for every team in the NBA that doesn’t dawn purple and gold.