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Howard to Lakers
by: Mitchell Mancini
Dwight Howard, the NBA’s best center who has become disgruntled in Orlando, will play for the Los Angeles Lakers next season, turning an already good team into the instant favorite in the Western Conference.
ESPN.com reported that this deal was imminent last night, but the deal that they were reporting has a major difference from the one that was apparently struck: the Lakers are keeping Pau Gasol.
The original report had the Orlando Magic giving up Howard and getting Gasol and Denver Nuggets guard Aaron Afflalo in return, a deal that sounded pretty fair to me. However, details of the actual trade have now emerged, and they are as follows: The Lakers receive Dwight Howard (from Orl), the Magic receive Aaron Afflalo (Den), Al Harrington (Den), Nikola Vucevic (Den), and rookie Moe Harkless (Phi), and 3 future first-round draft picks, The Philadelphia 76ers receive Andrew Bynum (LA) and Jason Richardson (Orl), and the Denver Nuggets receive Andre Iguodala (Phi).
Is this really the best Orlando could do? I liked the packages the Brooklyn Nets were apparently offering– the ones that involved young center Brook Lopez– better than this. Afflalo is a solid player who is just entering his prime, but the other guys the Magic received– Harrington, Vucevic, and Harkless– probably won’t be on the roster in a couple of years. And the three first-round picks may not be that valuable because two of the picks are from Denver and Los Angeles, two perennial playoff teams.
If I were a Magic fan going to bed last night with dreams of Gasol and Afflalo for Howard, I’d be disgusted this morning when I found out that, in fact, Afflalo is the centerpiece of the deal. Afflalo and a bunch of garbage, that’s the way many fans will look at it, and I don’t blame them.
As for the Lakers, they are now clearly the favorites to win the West, in my opinion. Steve Nash, Kobe, Gasol, the artist formerly known as Ron Artest, and Dwight Howard make up a pretty solid starting five.
The interesting thing to note here is that Howard’s representatives insist that he hasn’t given the Lakers any assurances that he will re-sign with them after this season, making this a significant gamble for the team. The front office apparently feels like they’ll be able to convince him to stay once they get him in, and they may be right if the team turns out to be as good as they look.
Lebron vs Kobe for the NBA title? The NBA’s dream scenario now seems rather inevitable.