Dwight Howard to Los Angeles Lakers: Winners and Losers
A source with direct knowledge of the talks told ESPN.com's Marc Stein the Lakers will receive Howard, the Denver Nuggets will acquire Andre Iguodala, the 76ers will receive Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson, and the Magic will get Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic and one protected future first-round pick from each of the other three teams.
In addition, the Magic will be getting other pieces, including 76ers No. 1 draft pick Moe Harkless a source told Stein.
The Lakers made out like bandits in this trade, but they aren't the only winners in this multi-team, blockbuster swap. Plus, just as in any trade, some losers have emerged as well.
Let's find out who these winners and losers are.
Winner: Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are obviously the big winners of this trade, as Mitch Kupchak essentially managed to swap Andrew Bynum for Dwight Howard.
With D12 on board in purple and gold, the Lakers now boast the NBA's best starting lineup: Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol and Dwight.
L.A. now has a center who fits in better with the Princeton Offense—one who also happens to be the best player at his position in the NBA.
With elite players at four of the five positions and a standout defender at small forward, the Lakers are poised to add a sixth ring to Kobe's collection in the immediate future.
Dwight's presence ensures that L.A. is in the hunt for a title while also extending Kobe's prime for a bit longer, as some of the pressure can now be taken off his shoulders.
Loser: Orlando Magic
Is this really the best that the Orlando Magic could do?
Rob Hennigan didn't land Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum or Brook Lopez, instead settling for a deal that emptied his roster of Dwight Howard for far less intriguing players.
Yes, the Magic eventually had to bite the bullet and trade away their star center, but surely they could have gotten a little bit more in return?
Arron Afflalo is an intriguing young shooting guard with plenty of potential on the defensive end of the court, but he's not exactly a franchise centerpiece.
The 26-year-old 2-guard averaged 15.2 points, 2.4 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game last season with a below-average player efficiency rating (PER) of 14.76. The opposing PER of 13.7 that he allowed opposing shooting guards to post—according to 82games.com—was impressive, but doesn't change his status as a (non-)franchise player.
Similarly, Nikola Vucevic and Maurice Harkless both have some upside, but neither was thought of highly enough to go in the lottery of their respective drafts. There's a serious limit to their upside.
Vucevic was efficient and effective during his time on the court as a rookie for the Philadelphia 76ers, but it's anyone's guess as to whether that will remain true when he averages more than 15.9 minutes per game.
As for Harkless, the sky is the limit for him, but only if we're referring to his jumping ability.
Besides the protected first-round picks that the Magic will receive from each team, Al Harrington was the last piece in the deal going. He's already 32 and clearly isn't a player the Magic want to build around.
This is by no means a terrible trade from the Magic's perspective, but they could have done far better with either a little more patience in the last week, or a little less hesitance in the past few months.
Winner: Andre Iguodala
Andre Iguodala is now going to be put into a situation where he can thrive as the league's best role player.
He'll no longer be asked to be a top scoring option, as he was with the Philadelphia 76ers. Now, he can function as the team's secondary or tertiary scorer behind Ty Lawson and/or Danilo Gallinari.
Allowed to pick and choose his spots, Iggy will blossom into an even more efficient machine while maintaining his focus on the defensive end of the court.
He'll immediately take over the team's starting shooting guard role and will play to his heart's content.
Plus, we all know just how much Iggy loves producing highlights.
Playing alongside a blazingly-fast point guard like Ty Lawson and a mobile big man in the form of Kenneth Faried, Iguodala is going to have opportunity after opportunity in transition.
He'll be on the receiving end of quite a few alley-oops when the Denver Nuggets get out and start running the fast break.
Loser: Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers lose Andre Iguodala, but they pick up Andrew Bynum and finally have the low-post threat that they've been sorely lacking.
At first glance, it appears as though the Sixers are winners in this trade, seeing how they just managed to replace Kwame Brown in the starting five with the NBA's second-best center.
However, this team isn't built to win now. With a potential starting lineup of Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner/Jason Richardson/Nick Young, Dorell Wright, Spencer Hawes and Bynum, the Sixers are looking at a low seed in the Eastern Conference.
This team isn't ready to compete with the true contenders in the NBA during its first year in their current form.
Bynum hasn't indicated that he'll sign an extension with any team but the Los Angeles Lakers, which could mean that it's now or never for the Sixers.
Unfortunately for their fans, "never" is looking like the safer option if Bynum leaves in free agency and doesn't stick past 2013.
Winner: NBA Fans
NBA fans can rejoice. The Dwightmare a few months before Christmas is almost officially over (assuming the reports prove correct...and David Stern doesn't meddle).
Howard can't flip-flop anymore. He can't declare that he wants something one way and then change his mind as soon as it appears that the possibility is about to become an actuality.
Rob Hennigan can't hesitate to make up his mind and drive everyone crazy.
The Los Angeles Lakers are the team that landed Dwight, and there's simply not much more speculation to deal with.
We can all proceed with our lives and no longer worry about opening up the browser and seeing the latest reiteration of the Dwight rumor.
NBA fans have been freed from the whims of D12 and Hennigan, and for that, the fans are clearly winners.
Loser: LeBron James
Just when the basketball world appeared to be developing into LeBron James' oyster after his regular-season MVP, Finals MVP and dominance in London, the landscape of its world shifted.
Now, LeBron's repeat efforts have to go through the Los Angeles Lakers, and winning a second straight championship will be anything but easy.
LeBron's detractors will never be satisfied with anything less than seven or eight rings. After all, he "promised" that at a silly pep rally that was meant more to pump up fans than anything else.
Regardless of his intentions during that now infamous rally, LeBron is going to be held to a higher standard, and he can't be done winning titles after systematically destroying the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals.
That higher standard will be awfully difficult to achieve now that Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash have joined forces to form a Big Four that more than rivals South Beach's Big Three.
I have no idea what LeBron's face looked like when he heard the news in London, but I can only imagine that the corners of his mouth weren't turned upward in smile.