Let’s start with one thing. I don’t know what offers the Orlando Magic actually had here. Were they really poring through various offers of other teams’ trash? Was this really some Building 19 special we were dealing with? It all seems terribly weird for the league’s 2nd best player. Yeah yeah yeah, it is chic to say that Kevin Durant is the league’s best non-LeBron James player, but Dwight Howard’s total impact on both sides of the floor (as well as the general VORP factors associated with centers) is too hard to ignore. So, lapsing into Hubie Brown’s cadence, you have the 2nd best player in the league – one who could be a free agent after this season, what is he worth?
We know that Houston amassed trade assets by the boatload leading up to this – between some credible draft picks, cap space and players who know how to play basketball and have some upside – yeah not star upside, but rotation level upside. We know that Atlanta could have offered Al Horford and Jeff Teague – granted their motivation to do so might have been modest considering that they could have tried to sign Howard outright after the season. It is hard to think that Aaron Affalo, Al Harrington, Nikova Vucevic, Moe Harkless, a bunch of low value draft picks is a fair price for the 2nd best player in the league. I mean, that is a combined 0 players who are likely to be key players on the next good Orlando team. Apparently Orlando has a beat on Jabari Parker in 2014 or something – otherwise this is pretty horrible return for a truly great (albeit truly flaky) player.
For the Lakers, this is obviously heist. After trading a bunch of picks they don’t want for Steve Nash, getting Dwight Howard for Andrew Bynum and a sack of potatoes is pretty amazing. With Antawn Jamison augmenting their depth, the Lakers are still way thinner than what you’d prefer and relying on some old guys with big egos (Kobe cough cough), and the pieces do not fit precisely. But they have four of the 25 best players in the game! Is Dwight Howard healthy and capable of being the next great Lakers center and phase into the leader of the franchise? Well he won’t have to lead right away. Lakers have moved up to a solid 3rd in the pecking order behind Miami and OKC.
Denver’s role here is weird. On one hand you can blame them for midwifing a trade that reduces their chance of winning. That said, you’d make the Affalo-Harrington for Iguodala deal tomorrow. And he is perfect for George Karl’s system – athletic, elite defender. Given Denver’s model, this was a really shrewd trade. And really, Lakers or Thunder or Spurs – they probably were not going to usurp any of them anyhoo. They get a solid A- here.
The Sixers you have to wonder – would they have amnestied Elton Brand if they knew that they could have gotten Andrew Bynum. Doubtlessly that would have been better than Bynum and Spencer Hawes or whatever. But that said, Andrew Bynum – health risk and all – is the best player legitimately available to acquire outside of Dwight and they landed him. Bynum is from Jersey and the Sixers will have an edge in money they can offer. Bynum is no lock to sign, but the Sixers have as good a chance as anybody – maybe better than that. Studs don’t show up every day – so when you can get one – ask questions later.
Overall Grades: Magic D, Lakers A+, Nuggets A-, Sixers A-