August 10, 2012
By Luka Papalko
The Dwight Howard era in Orlando is over. In addition, the constant circus that has involved his name in trade talks is finally over as well. The Orlando Magic decided that a 4-team involving the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets and the Philadelphia 76ers was ultimately the right package for them. The deal will include 12 players switching teams as well as 5 picks which will all head to the Magic.
Here is what the deal looks like in it's full form: the Lakers will receive Dwight Howard, Chris Duhon and Earl Clark; the Nuggets will receive Andre Iguodala; the Sixers will receive Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson; the Magic will receive Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless, Arron Afflalo, Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga, a 2014 1st round pick from either the Nuggets or Knicks, a 2015 protected 1st round pick from the Sixers, a 2017 protected 1st round pick from the Lakers, a 2013 2nd round pick from the Nuggets and a conditional 2015 2nd round pick from the Lakers.
For the Lakers, getting Dwight Howard was a prize in itself. But being able to keep Pau Gasol as well was an even bigger coupe. While there are no guarantees that Howard will stay a Laker long-term, it is likely they will be able to convince him to stay in Lakerland. The Lakers also gave up a few other pieces but the end result is a potential dominant starting lineup, with the addition of Steve Nash this summer. After their disappointing postseason last year, something needed to be done and Mitch Kupchak certainly did that. Now the pressure will be on Mike Brown to coach this team up and lead them back to the Finals.
The Sixers were a team not talked about in the Dwight Howard talks but they jumped at the chance to add a young, All-Star center in Andrew Bynum. The chance to get Bynum wasn't without paying a hefty price though. It cost them a franchise staple in Andre Iguodala along with a 1st round pick and promising young players (Vucevic and Harkless). The Sixers are also taking a large chance on Bynum, who will be a free agent at season's end and has had healthy concerns. The Sixers also added Jason Richardson, who will help ease the lose of Iguodala's scoring and add a good shooter to the lineup. If things do work out for the Sixers, they have a very good core of young players and will be on their way to the top of the East. This is a risky move for the Sixers but it's a move that should be applauded.
The Nuggets were also a team not talked much about getting involved in these talks but with extra parts being swapped, they too jumped at the chance to add a core piece to their team. They acquired Andre Iguodala while giving up a couple of picks, Al Harrington and Arron Afflalo. Afflalo and Harrington were key contributors to the Nuggets team last year but Iguodala is a potential difference maker on the floor, which is something the Nuggets team lacked last year. While Igudala proved he wasn't a franchise type talent in Philadelphia, he will fit in very well in a leading role in Denver. Masai Ujiri has done a very nice job of re-building this team after trading Carmelo Anthony. The Nuggets now look very young, athletic and have a chance to make some noise in the West.
This move for the Magic will ultimately be a major part in the franchise's future direction. Trading away a franchise player is not a situation that a team wants to endure but it's ultimately something that had to happen. New Magic GM Rob Hennigan will now be faced in re-building this team and he put his imprint on the franchise's future when he accepted this package for Howard. While Hennigran did get the several picks, cap space and young talent that he wished for all along, his choice not to acquire a legitimate, proven talent such as Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol or Brook Lopez will be on the mind's of Magic fans when judging this trade. This gives Hennigan many pieces to play with now but the lack of a standout player in this trade is ultimately which brings up questions if this was the right package for the Magic. Time will tell but for now it's certainly questionable if this was the right move for the Magic.