The trade that would send Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers is all but done, according to ESPN.com, but until it is signed, sealed and delivered by the league, you never know what might happen.
With that said, though, it's probably safe to start breaking down how everyone involved fared.
ESPN.com is reporting that the four-team deal involving the Magic, Lakers, Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers will look like this when it is all said and done:
Los Angeles receives Howard.
Denver receives 76ers forward Andre Iguodala.
Philadelphia receives Lakers center Andrew Bynum and Magic guard Jason Richardson.
Orlando receives Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo and forward Al Harrington, Philadelphia's Nikola Vucevic, draft rights to 76ers F Moe Harkless, and one protected first-round pick from each of the other three teams.
Here is my complete analysis of how each of the four teams fared and how this potential blockbuster will affect them moving forward.
Los Angeles Lakers
A team generally is considered the winner of a trade when it gets the best player, and that is the case for the Lakers in this deal.
There is no question that Bynum is an excellent, young center with a ton of upside, but Howard is far and away the best in the game on both ends of the floor and makes the Lakers legitimate contenders for the title, as he will join a team that is already stacked with the likes of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol.
The only concern regarding this trade is whether or not Howard would re-sign with L.A.
He had been saying that the Brooklyn Nets are the only team he would ink a new deal with, but then there was speculation that he might do the same with the Lakers.
My best guess is that Howard will be ecstatic to be out of Orlando, though, and will see the Lakers as a perennial championship contender.
That will lead to him re-signing and help the Lakers win the deal.
Although the Lakers may be the ultimate winners of the trade when everything is said and done, there is no question that the Nuggets got themselves a nice haul as well.
'Sixers forward Andre Iguodala has been rumored to be on the block for quite some time, and it appears that he will finally be on the move, making Denver his new home.
Philadelphia's desperation to move Iguodala has always perplexed me, since he is a player who produces in every facet of the game. You could argue that he was one of the best all-around players in the league last year, with season averages of 12.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.7 steals per contest.
Iguodala has continued to impress at the London 2012 Olympics, where he is one of Team USA's defensive stoppers and a guy who terrorizes the opposition in transition. The Nuggets will have to give up a solid shooter and defender in Afflalo as well as a big man with range in the form of Harrington, but Iguodala trumps them both.
Adding Iguodala to a core that includes Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and JaVale McGee among others would make Denver a very tough team to beat.
The 76ers were one win away from playing in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals last season, but they obviously needed a shakeup to reach that next level.
Shipping out Iguodala and Vucevic while bringing in Bynum would certainly constitute that.
Bynum finally came into his own last season, as he put up per-game averages of 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and a touch under two blocks.
With this deal, the 'Sixers would move from more of a perimeter-oriented team to one that can do damage in the paint. The loss of Iguodala will hurt in terms of perimeter defense, but Bynum will be a great presence inside, and youngster Evan Turner is ready for an increased role, with Iguodala out of the fold.
Philly still has some work to do in order to become an elite team, but with perhaps the second best center in the league on the team, as well as an exciting, young backcourt in Turner and Jrue Holiday, there is a lot of potential for growth.
The 76ers are a bit of a stagnant squad and lack explosion, but Bynum would change that.
The price to acquire Bynum is steep, as Philadelphia will have to part with its best player, its past two first-round picks and an additional first, but now the 76ers will have an advantage over every other team in the Eastern Conference on the low block.
It was obvious that the Magic wouldn't get fair value for Howard since teams are rarely able to do that when trading superstars, but Orlando didn't get anywhere near a proper return.
Howard is probably a top-five player in the league; however, the Magic somehow managed to get little more than spare parts and picks in return.
Afflalo, Harrington, Vucevic and Harkless could all be solid rotational players from the onset, but none of them can take over games. They would join Hedo Turkoglu, J.J. Redick, Andrew Nicholson and a few other players to form perhaps the least exciting team ever.
Orlando clearly wanted to dump salary, and it did that by trading Howard and pawning off Richardson, but it should have been trying to get a good package back as well.
Initial rumors had Orlando getting either Bynum or Gasol from the Lakers in the trade, but that didn't come to fruition. I understand that Bynum's contract situation is shaky, but if the Magic could have re-signed him, then the sting of losing Howard wouldn't have been so evident.
Now all Orlando has to rely on is potential and cap space to make moves in the future.
The Magic could very well be the worst team in the league this coming season, and while that would help them in terms of getting a high draft pick and accelerating the rebuilding process, I can't help but think that they could have done better.
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