Yesterday at this time the Miami Heat were still considered a lock to repeat as NBA Champions in 2013, but fast forward to today, and all that has changed.
ESPN.com news service is reporting that the Lakers have agreed to four-team trade that would send Andrew Bynum to the Philadelphia 76ers, and bring Dwight Howard to L.A.—ultimately bringing the "Dwightmare" to an end.
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 andJason Richardson, and the Magic will get Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic and one protected future first-round pick from each of the three teams.
That is certainly great news if you're a Lakers, 76ers, Nuggets or Magic fan, but it's bad news if you're a fan of the Miami Heat, hoping for a repeat title next year.
The Heat's biggest problem this past season was at the center position; where they had about as much depth as a kiddie pool.
Currently, the Heat have Chris Bosh, Joel Anthony and Dexter Pittman on their depth chart at center, and I'm almost certain that all three of them together would have a hard time putting Dwight Howard on lock-down in the paint.
Assuming the Heat blast their way past the competition in the Eastern Conference during the playoffs next year—which will be more difficult now that the 76ers have Andrew Bynum—they'll have their hands full if they meet the Lakers in the 2013 NBA Finals.
Let's just take a minute and take a peak at a potential starting lineup matchup for both teams, assuming they meet, and give NBA fans the greatest NBA Finals of all time.
Can the Miami Heat repeat in 2013 without a better player at center?
Point Guard: Mario Chalmers vs. Steve Nash
Shooting Guard: Dwyane Wade vs. Kobe Bryant
Small Forward: Shane Battier/Rashard Lewis vs. Metta World Peace
Power Forward: LeBron James vs. Pau Gasol
Center: Chris Bosh vs. Dwight Howard
Looking at that matchup, it's clear that the Lakers have the advantage. Just the fact that LeBron could realistically spend an entire game defending Gasol is reason enough to worry, because that would certainly wear on him throughout the length of a seven-game series.
While I think Chalmers would give Nash a tough time on both sides of the ball, there's no looking past the massive advantage the Lakers have at the center position. When you combine that with Howard's impressive ability to run the pick-and-roll, alongside one of the best point guards in the game in Steve Nash, it's clear the Heat would have their hands full.
One thing is certain. If the Heat don't sign a free-agent center, which is all but impossible at this point in free agency with only players like Kenyon Martin and Jermaine O'Neal available, the Heat are going to have a tough time competing with the best team in the Western Conference—the L.A. Lakers.