Lakers Acquire Dwight Howard
By: Steve Rawnsley
The Lakers made news by acquiring franchise changer, Chris Duhon. Okay, he is a part of the trade, but he is not the piece that everybody is talking about. The Dwight-mare is finally over. The Lakers, 76ers, Magic, and Nuggets worked out a four team deal.
First, as expected, any trade involving Dwight Howard going to LA, Andrew Bynum was leaving. Bynum ends the whole saga with Philadelphia. The 76ers feel like Andrew Bynum is the second best big man in the game. The 76ers have been in the news this offseason. They were an average team last year, and felt like changes needed to be made. The 76ers have been shopping Andre Iguadala for a while now, as they wanted to get rid of the $29 million remaining on his contract for the next two seasons.
They are willing to take the chance on Bynum not resigning. From their point of view, they are too good to get a good pick, but not good to really make much noise in the playoffs. They needed to do something. Bynum is a guy Philadelphia can build around. Before they did not have that player. Trading Iguadala also frees up room for Evan Turner.
Andre Iguadala goes to the Denver Nuggets. This is a big upgrade for the Nuggets. Iguadala might not score at the rate he used to, but his improved passing ability makes up for that. His best attribute though is his defense. He is probably the best perimeter defender in the league.
The Nuggets have a very good rotation. Starting lineup is probably Lawson, Iguadala, Galinari, Farried, and McGee. Good, but not great. Here is where the Nuggets are loaded: Their bench mob is Andre Miller, Corey Brewer, Wilson Chandler, and Mozgov as the main pieces. Just about every player on the team can play multiple positions. Galinari is one of the most efficient scorers in the league. Lawson might be the fastest guy in the league. McGee is emerging. This team will be one of the most exciting teams to watch, as they averaged the second most possessions last year, and they will probably run even more now.
From Orlando’s end, they received Aaron Afflolo, and Al Harrington from Denver, Nikola Vucevic, and Moe Harkless from Philadelphia, and Josh McRoberts, and Christian Eyenga from the Lakers. The Magic also got five draft picks over the next five years.
Nothing from the Magic point of view really stands out. The draft picks will be mid to late first round picks. The other three teams were playoff teams last year, and all got better. The Magic selection of getting Aaron Afflolo is an interesting choice. This probably means that JJ Redick is not in their future plans. He has a $6.1 million dollar expiring contract. Maybe they move him soon to save money and get additional assets?
Nikola Vucevic is interesting. He averaged 16 minutes his rookie year last year, and averaged just under 5 boards, along with .7 blocks. If he can improve his 45% shooting from the field, he should be good. However, the 52% from the free throw line shows he has a lack of touch, and his offensive game might be limited. Al Harrington’s final two years are only partially guaranteed. This could be a valuable trading chip also. Not picking up his options after the year, would be a money saving move also. I do like McRoberts who should battle Glen Davis for the starting PF position. He got lost in LA as the season went on, but looked like a solid backup in Indiana.
The disheartening thing for the Magic on top of getting rid of Dwight for marginal talent is not getting rid of their worst contract. Jason Richardson is not as overpaid as people think in my opinion at $18.6 million for the next three years if he picks up the $6.6 million dollar option in the final year. Hedo Turkoglu is the worst contract. He will make $23.8 million this season and next, assuming he picks up the final year option. I do not see anywhere in the deal where they won. They will try to go with the OKC model, but that takes a lot, and I mean a lot of luck.
Last but not least, the Lakers. This is very nice for the Lakers. Consider, they went 7 games in the first round last year, and really got destroyed by the Thunder in five games. The Lakers were no longer a title contender before the offseason. The one negative about the Steve Nash signing was defense on opposing PG’s. Westbrook, Parker, and CP3 can blow by Nash at will. That is why Kobe would probably guard them, and can Kobe guard them at this stage of his career? Now, Dwight Howard helps negate this problem. Dwight Howard is the best help-side, defender I have ever seen. Now, these PG’s blow by whoever guards them, and they have to deal with Dwight.
They gave up Andrew Bynum, who was no bum on the court when his head was on. The Gasol acquisition was bigger than this, because they only gave up Kwame Brown’s expiring contract, and Marc Gasol, who nobody knew would explode like this. (There is a reason why he was a second round pick.) Now, Dwight is better than Bynum, but Bynum is probably the second best center in the game.
I have always thought Howard would explode when he got out of Orlando, and we will see. Orlando was one of the worst passing teams. Howard would constantly get inside position, and they would miss the opportunity to give him an easy basket. Now, with the collective IQ of the Lakers, and passing ability of Gasol, Nash, and Kobe, they will not miss him. Not only this, but along with the acquisition of Nash, the Lakers are back to being title contenders. Does anybody have a 4th player as good as the Lakers have, whoever you say their 4th wheel is?
Very rarely when trading a superstar, does a team get equal talent back, or does it help them. The same happened here. The other three teams besides Orlando got better. Denver might be the favorite to take the fourth seed and get home court in the West in the first round. Philly got a guy they can build around. LA got the best center in the league.
Orlando gave up the best defensive player in the game and a reigning All-Star and didn’t get either of the other two All-Stars involved in the trade. Orland will be hurting for a while.