Dwight Howard Trade Analysis: Winners and Losers of 4-Team Blockbuster
The four teams involved in the blockbuster trade—the Lakers, the Denver Nuggets, the Orlando Magic and the Philadelphia 76ers—are slated to finalize the deal in a league call Friday morning, according to ESPN.
In the trade, as currently being reported, the Lakers will receive Howard; the Nuggets will receive Philly's Andre Iguodala; the Sixers will get Andrew Bynum from the Lakers and Jason Richardson from the Magic; and the Magic will get Al Harrington and Arron Afflalo from the Nuggets, Maurice Harkless and Nikola Vucevic from the Sixers, and a future lottery-protected first-round pick from each team.
Which means yes, somehow, the Lakers kept Pau Gasol out of the blockbuster.
Who emerged as the big winner from this trade? Who looks like the biggest loser at first glance? Let's take a look.
Winner: Los Angeles Lakers
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Essentially, the Lakers just traded a first-round pick (at earliest in 2017, due to the Steve Nash trade) and Bynum for Howard.
Who in their right mind wouldn't do that deal?
The fact L.A. managed to spare Gasol from being involved in the trade makes them the clear, unquestioned winner here.
They effectively upgraded their center position with the one player in the league better than Bynum, and gave themselves a true superstar to build around in the post-Kobe era.
Howard reportedly still plans on testing free agency next summer, but a team of Bryant, Gasol and Nash will be pretty hard to turn down, especially when they can offer him more money than anyone else.
Move over, Miami and Oklahoma City. We've got a new NBA title favorite in town, with the Lakers' new starting lineup of Nash, Bryant, Metta World Peace, Gasol and Howard.
Loser: The New CBA
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Somewhere, quietly, 20-some small market owners are weeping at the sight of this deal.
For small markets, it's difficult enough to land one potential superstar. The Lakers now have four.
In theory, the new collective bargaining agreement negotiated after last year's lockout built in punitive luxury taxes to discourage teams from amassing stars like the Lakers have. According to ESPN's John Hollinger, this trade means the Lakers now have a $99 million payroll, with two players potentially yet to sign.
Teams below the tax will certainly benefit from the Lakers' tax penalties over the next few years...but that won't bring them any closer to a championship.
Not as long as the Lakers can keep the Nash-Bryant-Gasol-Howard core around, anyway.
Winner: Philadelphia 76ers
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The Sixers, in search of a superstar since the departure of Allen Iverson in 2006, may have finally just landed one in Bynum.
Aside from Howard, Bynum has no equal in the league. He's a 7-foot, 280-pound man-beast, who averaged nearly 19 points and 12 rebounds per game for the Lakers this past season.
And that was with Bryant averaging nearly 25 shots per game.
The Sixers have to trade away their most talented player in Iguodala, along with their two most recent No. 1 draft picks in Vucevic and Harkless, but folks: Players like Bynum don't often choose to come to Philly.
The Sixers saw the opportunity to land a potential superstar and pounced.
Even if Bynum, who grew up an hour away from Philadelphia, decides to leave in free agency next summer, the Sixers would clear their books and have plenty of cap space for other free agents.
Loser: Orlando Magic
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Looking back, are we sure that the Nets' proposed deal of MarShon Brooks, Brook Lopez and four first-round picks wasn't better than this mish-mash?
If the first-round picks in this trade weren't lottery protected, the Magic would grade out somewhat better in the deal.
However, those lottery protections can't give Magic fans much hope for immediate improvement in the next few years.
The Magic get Harrington and Afflalo from Denver, two decent players, but nothing spectacular. Same goes for the Vucevic-Harkless duo from Philly that the Magic obtain in the trade. (At least the latter pair is still young.)
As SBNation's Tom Ziller tweeted Friday morning: "The Magic traded the best player in a four-team swap and got the worst package. Amazing."
Yep. The NBA is where amazing happens, all right.
Winner: Denver Nuggets
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Anyone questioning whether Iguodala is an upgrade over Afflalo and Harrington needs to go to a doctor to get their head checked immediately. (Seriously, stop reading and go.)
The Nuggets can simply slide Iguodala in the now-vacant starting two role, and they'll have a nightmare of a wing duo in Iggy and Danilo Gallinari.
As Hollinger of ESPN noted in his trade analysis, the Nuggets save roughly $23 million in future money by moving Harrington and Afflalo, as Iguodala's contract only runs for two more seasons.
In the meantime, the Nuggets won't overstretch Iggy by asking him to be a No. 1 option on offense. They'll be able to utilize him much in the way that Mike Krzyzewski has used Iggy in London on Team USA: a monster defender and someone who can run the fastbreak well.
Denver somehow saves money in this deal and upgrades in terms of talent? That's a major win for the Nuggets.
Loser: Oklahoma City Thunder (by extension)
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Anyone expecting a rematch of the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder in next year's NBA Finals might need to put a rain check on that one.
If the Lakers aren't suddenly Western Conference favorites, they're right up there. We've yet to see how Nash, Bryant, Gasol and Howard can coexist on a court together, but these players' talents aren't necessarily duplicative.
Now, with Howard on the Lakers, the Thunder also can't consider amnestying Kendrick Perkins to create cap space for James Harden and Serge Ibaka's extensions.
They'll need a true center to battle Howard down low while Ibaka handles Gasol at the four, and Perkins is one of the few in the league who can actually hold his own against Howard.
The road back to the finals just became significantly more difficult for the Thunder (and the rest of the Western Conference) with this trade for the Lakers.