The Dwight Howard drama in Orlando is finally over. The all-star center has gotten his wish and will be playing for a championship contender — but it’s not the Brooklyn Nets.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Howard is on his way to Los Angeles to join Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, and Steve Nash in what is shaping to be one of the greatest starting fives in NBA history. The Lakers are now armed with five All-Stars, two MVPs, and two defensive players of the year.
The four-team, multi-player deal won’t become official until the league office checks it off, but the framework involves this scenario: the Lakers will send All-Star center Andrew Bynum to the Philadelphia 76ers, who also will receive shooting guard Jason Richardson from the Orlando Magic; the Sixers will send guard Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets; and the Magic will receive Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, rookie swingman Moe Harkless, three first-round draft picks and a 2013 second-round pick from the Nuggets. The Lakers also receive guard Chris Duhon and forward Earl Clark to complete the transaction.
The trade ends the Howard era in Orlando. In eight seasons with the Magic, Howard averaged 20 points and 14 rebounds. He led the Magic to one appearance in the NBA Finals, losing to the L.A. Lakers in 2009. Howard was the Magic’s No. 1 overall selection in the 2004 draft and he’ll go down in Orlando Magic history as its best player. He’s a three-time defensive player of the year, voted to the All-Star game six times, and named to the NBA first team five times.
Despite all his accomplishments, Howard will forever be remembered as a petulant player who often clashed with former head coach Stan Van Gundy. The worst thing you can label a player is “coach killer” and Howard certainly earned that label his last two years in Orlando.
Howard has said on many occasions that he didn’t want to follow the path set by Shaquille O’Neal, who bolted for Los Angeles after four seasons in Orlando. It took the Magic nearly a decade to get over Shaq’s departure and now Howard is doing the exact same thing.
O’Neal was the first overall pick by the Magic in 1992, Howard was the first overall pick by the Magic in 2004. Both big men took the Magic to one trip to the NBA Finals, and both use the Superman moniker to define who they are. It’s deja vu for Orlando, but this one really stings.
Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me.
Shame on the Magic for signing off on this franchise-crippling deal.
No matter how you look at the trade, the Magic didn’t get value-for-value. Howard is regarded as the best big man in the NBA and replacing a superstar with multiple players never works. The NBA is a superstar-driven league and unless the Magic can parlay the trade into a superstar college player, it will come out of this complicated deal the biggest loser.
The biggest mistake Orlando made is it allowed Howard to dictate the direction of the talks. He went back-and-forth on his choices and appeared indecisive. This is where the Magic management should have put its food down and told Howard he either signs a long-term extension or he’ll get shipped.
In the end, it was the Magic that dropped the rope in the tug-o-war. The petulant Howard gets his wish and Orlando will be a lottery team for the next couple of years.