After a year of trade rumours, mood swings and bizarrely awkward press conferences, Dwight Howard has put an end to the speculation regarding his future at the Orlando Magic. As of Friday night, Howard is now a Los Angeles Laker in a trade that saw twelve players being traded between four teams. Howard, along with Magic team-mates Chris Duhon and Earl Clark, will join summer signing Steve Nash in Lakerland. Speaking in California on Friday, D12 was laughing and grinning and spoke at length about looking forward to playing at the Staples Centre. L.A. is currently experiencing a sporting revival, with the emergence of the long dormant Clippers, baseball’s Dodgers and the Stanley Cup winning Kings The impact this trade has on the rest of the league is huge, but before we go into that, let’s break down who went where.
It seems only natural to begin with the team who stands to gain the most from this deal. The Lakers have just come off the back of a relatively disappointing season after being easily dispatched by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second round of the play-offs. However, their response in the off-season has been immediate. The acquisition of Steve Nash at point guard was a great move. In Nash, they’re getting one of the best guards in the league who managed to average 10.7 assists per game last year as part of a distinctly average Phoenix Suns team.
Now that they’ve managed to sign Howard, the best centre in the league, they’re defence will be far stronger and with the addition of Duhon and Clark they’ll have much more depth in their squad. Furthermore, the Lakers have pulled off this deal without giving up their key big man Pau Gasol giving themselves even more options on their roster .
Just as important for the Lakers is moving Andrew Bynum. The troubled centre has had more than his share of personal issues and swapping him for an enthusiastic Dwight can only boost the morale of the Laker locker-room.
The Philadelphia 76’ers give up a useful player in Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets but in return, they garner the services of Andrew Bynum and the Magic’s Jason Richardson. Whilst Bynum has had his aforementioned troubles he is still undoubtedly very talented. With no team to really challenge the Heat in the Eastern Conference there’s every chance that if Doug Collins, the Philly head coach, can get the most out of Bynum, the Sixers can make a deep run in the playoffs.
By getting Andre Iguodala, arguably the best perimeter defender in the NBA, the Denver Nuggets have taken significant steps in strengthening their roster. The fans who watched Carmello Anthony leave for the New York Knicks only six months ago need something to cheer about, and Iguodala’s fine offensive skills and defensive prowess take the Nuggets from a fringe team to a real playoff contender
And so we come to the Magic, the team that appears to have gotten the least from the deal. In return for giving up Duhon, Clark, Richardson and Howard the Magic really don’t get much: Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington from the Nuggets; Maurice Harkless and Nikola Vucevic from the 76’ers and Josh McRoberts and Christian Eyenga from the Lakers. If you don’t recognise any of those names then don’t worry, these players aren’t the cream of the NBA’s crop. What the Magic are most concerned with are the draft picks they obtained. Five picks in total with three being in the first round. The idea here is to try and draft their way to success, similar to what the Thunder have managed to do at Oklahoma City. However, that’s easier said than done. It relies on a very talented draft group from college, and even then, the Magic aren’t getting particularly high picks. The other teams involved in the deal are playoff teams, therefore the Magic are looking at picks in the teens and twenties. They won’t find the next Durant or Westbrook in there.
Ultimately, the Magic have come off way worse in this deal than any of the other teams. Which is understandable given that they had no leverage in these trade negotiations. Howard wanted to leave and if the Magic let him go as a free agent then they would’ve received nothing.
The Nuggets and the Sixers have done a great job in strengthening their rosters for the coming season. However, it seems like the real winners here are the Lakers. Just as soon as people were ready to write off this current squad, management made the moves to throw them right back into Championship contention.