Each trade in the NBA has a life of its own, complete with a birth in concept, mid-life alterations and an eventual finality. It's never as clean as the final swap might suggest—largely because every transaction of players requires analysis and consideration from a variety of angles.
Every deal is a negotiation, and before finalization, dozens of pieces may be swapped in and out of a potential scenario with the aim of getting the assets and finances involved to match up just so.
One can only imagine how complicated such discussions get when more than two teams are involved, as NBA trade stipulations make virtually every deal more complex than it might otherwise need to be. There's reason behind every added nuance, carved out over the course of delicate negotiations designed to placate the interests of all parties involved.
So naturally, in the midst of the discussions over Friday's blockbuster trade that made Dwight Howard a Laker, the pieces involved were added, withdrawn and rotated during a very natural negotiation process.
Each of the four teams involved may not have gotten exactly what they bargained for, but as 76ers team president Rod Thorn intimated in his appearance on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia, there are prizes to be found for those diligent enough to include themselves in trade discussions and flexible enough to roll with the endless possibilities that result.
Initially we were talking to Orlando about Dwight Howard. That’s how it got started. And so we had conversations with them regarding him and then he wanted to go either to Brooklyn or to Los Angeles. And so the Lakers, they had been in the conversation before we were in there. And so I can’t tell you how many different conversations, and it ended up the way it ended up today.
The way it "ended up today," for those who haven't been following along at home, is with the Sixers landing outstanding 24-year-old center, Andrew Bynum, in exchange for the ill-fitting Andre Iguodala.
Iggy was a big part of all that Philadelphia has done over the last eight seasons, but with the direction that the Sixers have developed of late, it only became more and more clear that the swingman's days in Philly were numbered.
The same may be true of Bynum—who will be an unrestricted free agent next summer—but the Sixers have an entire year to both assess the health of the young big man and make their case as a preferred landing spot. That's a pretty brilliant place to be for a franchise that seemed rather aimless just a week ago, and that had willingly subjected itself to the services of Kwame Brown and Spencer Hawes for the next two seasons.
To say that Bynum is an upgrade over both of those players assumes that they play the game in remotely similar ways. Instead, let us only note that Bynum is productive and promising enough to be a sturdy building block for a franchise badly in need of structure, and that Iguodala had hardly shown such foundational potential for this particular team.
He's not Dwight Howard, but Bynum is a tremendous acquisition for a team that simply kept listening.
The Sixers went in with a target in mind, heard out offer after offer after that target was denied them, and slowly redirected the talks back in their favor.
That's the kind of negotiating work necessary to come out of a three- or four-team deal without having one's interests lost in the red tape, and the persistence required to turn a misstep into the acquisition of a star player that could legitimately change the course of an entire franchise.
Even if it's not the one initially intended.