Just when you thought the NBA offseason was starting to get a little quiet in August, the trade winds picked up in a hurry yesterday as rumors of a four-team deal involving the Lakers, Magic, Nuggets and 76ers appeared across the horizon as first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo! Sports.
Less than 24 hours later, ESPN.com among other major outlets have reported that this is a done deal. Here’s the breakdown of who goes where as we know it now:
A source with direct knowledge of the talks told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein the Lakers will receive Howard, the Denver Nuggets will acquire Andre Iguodala, the 76ers will receive Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson, and the Magic will get Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic and one protected future first-round pick from each of the three teams.
The Lakers also will acquire Earl Clark and Chris Duhon, a source told ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard. Draft picks the Magic will receive are Nuggets (2014), 76ers (2015) and Lakers (2017).
In addition, the Magic will be getting other pieces, including 76ers No. 1 draft pick Moe Harkless, a source told Stein.
There are plenty of reasonable reactions to have in response to this deal. Perhaps first and foremost is the, “REALLY ORLANDO? THAT’S THE BEST YOU COULD GET AFTER SHOPPING HOWARD FOR ALMOST A YEAR?” We don’t know the complete deal terms now though, so let’s forego that option for now, calm down, and think more about how this relates to the C’s and complexion of the Eastern Conference this season and beyond, while trying to ignore the disturbing reality Howard will be joining Boston’s natural rival.
To start off, Orlando drops down a major tier in the Eastern Conference. I’m not going to say they won’t contend for the 7th or 8th spot because Aaron Afflalo is good, Glen Davis played well when he wasn’t next to Dwight on the floor, and the bottom half of the East still isn’t a formidable group. Either way, Orlando is no longer a tough out in the East and with an injury or two, could be at the bottom of the league for awhile moving forward.
Philadelphia adds another twist to their underwhelming offseason by dumping Iguodala for a true center in Bynum. There are a couple problems here however: 1) They already have two true centers on the roster in Spencer Hawes and Kwame Brown (although this may lead me to believe someone told Doug Collins neither of them are very good. 2) Collins will have to attempt to coach Bynum without either party driving each other crazy.
Those are two serious causes of concern. With that said, it’s not a terrible gamble by Philly. If Collins figures out Lavoy Allen is his best power forward on the roster, Bynum and Allen is a very formitable front line that will give undersized teams like Boston upfront (Brandon Bass) trouble. Let’s just hope Mr. Collins keeps rolling out Hawes and Brown out there as opposed to Allen and/or Thaddeus Young. Philly also still doesn’t have anyone who can shoot from the outside, so there’s that too.
Denver gets Iguodala with their trade exception while dumping Afflalo and Harrington. That’s still not enough for them to contend in the monster that the Western Conference has become, but there’s a lot of talent out in the Rockies right now and they’ll continue to give contenders tough series in the first two rounds of the postseason if Lawson, McGee and Gallinari maintain their progression around a veteran almost All-Star like Iguodala.
Finally we have the Lakers and yes I’ve been avoiding them on purpose. Everyone will be moaning how they got to keep Gasol in this deal and still get Howard, but the reality is Gasol’s deal is so inflated over the next couple years, he really isn’t much of a valuable trade chip anymore. The Magic didn’t want to pay him almost 19 million dollars to be a middle of the road team, and the same goes for the rest of the NBA. The Lakers will happily keep him because he makes them a stronger contender and he is still an elite player.
Looking past that, the deal should be a home run for the Lakers, assuming Howard is content with being what will probably be their fourth offensive option most of the time. You think that may be an issue, but you’re probably forgetting Steve Nash is the new point guard out there and usually makes everyone on the roster happy. Defensively, we know what Howard can do.
I think the only thing the C’s fans can be happy about here is the fact that Mike Brown is still coaching this team, who himself hasn’t proven he can put together an effective halfcourt offense when it matters. That may no longer be a problem with Nash in the equation, but we have a few months to wonder how it will shake out.
For now though, I’m not totally worked up about Howard on the Lakers. Why?
1) Howard’s out of the Eastern Conference, so C’s only have to deal with him twice a year now.
2) The two regular season matchups each year between Boston and LA should be even more enjoyable to watch now.
3) Garnett proved last season he could guard Howard at center, so his presence in LA is not a game-changer as far as the BOS vs. LAL matchup goes.
4) Howard’s presence makes the Western Conference even tougher now, meaning the Thunder will have a harder road to the NBA Finals. If the C’s somehow do find a way back to the NBA Finals this season, I’d much rather face the Lakers over the Thunder as I believe Boston still matches up better with the aging Lakers compared to the athletic Thunder.
No one in Boston wants to see the Lakers get better generally, but given the alternatives of Howard joining the Nets somehow next year, I’m happy Boston won’t have to deal with him as much for the next 12 months and perhaps beyond.