It’s finally over. But it shouldn’t be.

Orlando have finally traded Dwight Howard today, sending him to the Lakers in a four team deal that sees them get in return Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington from Denver, Mo Harkless and Nikola Vucevic from Philadelphia, and three protected first round picks from each of the other three teams. In addition to this, the reported deal sees Andrew Bynum go to the Sixers, Andre Iguodala to the Nuggets, and a few other contracts thrown in that frankly do not matter.

It takes only a moment to understand quite how ridiculously good a Lakers team of Nash, Kobe, anybody, Pau and Dwight should be. It’s a team that has everything, and even if Kobe continues to play the Black Mamba way that means the unit produces at less than its optimum capacity, the lineup is so good that it just shouldn’t matter. The same guy who built the Smush Parker-Chris Mihm team has now built arguably the strongest on-paper team in NBA history, and it’s frankly brilliant. All those teams who had been maneuvering to sign him as a free agent next summer need to now change their plan, for Dwight has no incentive to leave.

Denver, meanwhile, does it again. Just as they previously overpaid to re-sign Nene without ever really wanting to, they have done something similar with Afflalo, re-signing the player to a long term contract without intending to have him long-term. The Nuggets stockpiled players always with an eye to move them on later, as evidenced by the subsequent Wilson Chandler signing, and sought to get younger, more athletic, and better. They’ve done that while also managing to get cheaper; the approximately $45 million outstanding to Afflalo and Harrington dwarfs the $30.6 mil still owed to Iggy. With Ty Lawson about to command eight figures annually, this is not to be overlooked.

Philly remains a confused, ill-fitting question mark, but upgraded their best player, which is never a bad thing. Their offseason hasn’t made a whole lot of sense to date, and the players they did bring in are now even more awkward of a fit with Bynum in play. Then again, they probably never thought this was possible. And while they had to give up their best player, a huge cog of their impressive defense and three decent young assets to do it, they got an elite offensive player at his position, something they haven’t had since Allen Iverson. In downgrading their defense slightly, they should upgrade their offense significantly, a move they simply needed to make. Now, they just need a Lou Williams type. Whoops.

But all of that is secondary. Tertiary, even. This is all about Orlando, and quite what on Earth they have done.

In letting the baby finally have its bottle, the Magic seemingly decided they preferred cap space and draft picks to quality players. That’s acceptable, even when talking about a multi-time Defensive Player of the Year award winner, if you get back enough future assets. But that isn’t close to what happened here. What Orlando has done instead is trade the best center in the NBA and turn down the opportunity to get the second-best, instead settling for non-lottery picks, players with the upside of fringe starters, and not nearly as much cap space as we would like to believe.

The cumbersome salaries of Jason Richardson and Chris Duhon are going out in the deal, to Philadelphia and Los Angeles respectively. However, Afflalo ($7.75 million in 2013-14) is incoming, as is Harrington. And even if Orlando waives Al to take advantage of the 50 percent unguaranteed portion of his contract, that’s still a $3,574,300 chunk of cap space going out to a player you no longer have. Those two combine with the similarly guaranteed portion of Hedo Turkoglu’s salary ($6 million), Jameer Nelson’s ambitious new contract ($8.6 million), the incumbent Glen Davis ($6.4 million), Quentin Richardson ($2,808,600) and the smaller but not insignificant amounts still owed to what now defaults into being the “young core” — Harkless, Vucevic, Gustavo Ayon, and the picks. Even Fran Vasquez will still cost. The idea that Orlando just traded Dwight for cap space is insincere, disingenuous and misleading. It’s more accurate to say they traded him mainly for Afflalo. And that’s impossible to stomach.

This summer, they have lost one of the NBA’s best coaches, declined to re-sign one of the league’s better young power forwards to a competitive price, and declined to trade for a 24-year-old All-Star center. Instead, they got a decent but average shooting guard who stopped playing defense when he got paid, negligible salary savings, and a variety of forgettably average parts with upsides of, oh, I don’t know, the next Zaza Pachulia or something. For some reason they wanted that more than Andrew Bynum. For some reason they even wanted it more than Brook Lopez. Pretensions of following the “Thunder model” are so ridiculously ambitious, and so reliant upon many years of perfect timing, that it’s just not believable.

It’s over, thank God. So that’s something. But it shouldn’t be. Orlando lost a lot of leverage in the Howard struggle, but they surely still had a lot more than this.

Comments (42)

  1. Good Stuf, Mark. The Denver financial savings is the clincher for me…didn’t realize it would be so big till you pointed it out on twitter yesterday. Ironic that Iggy goss from best player on a superstarless team to the best plauyer on another superstarless team tho.

  2. Trade for Hedo, Arenas, Jason Richardson
    Trade away Gortat
    Resign Jason Richardson
    Trade away Brandon Bass
    Trade for Big Baby Davis and sign him for 4 years/26 million dollars
    Trade away Ryan Anderson
    Resign Jameer Nelson
    Fire Stan Van Gundy
    Play a waiting game where you’re the most desperate person at the table and trade Dwight Howard for the worst deal of 3 different offers where you trade the third best player in the NBA for Aaron Afflalo

    If you feel you can do this, congratulations, you could work in the NBA.

  3. Umm.. if u didnt know they got three first round draft picks on top of that

    • The people of Orlando are licking their chops at the prospect of three picks ranging in the 20s from 2014-2017.

      • There was nothing else available pick wise unless the Magic desperately wanted Toronto’s lousy lottery first in 2013. Which is going to be a horrible, horrible player.

    • 3 protected first round picks, on draft night you could have had 2 lottery and 1 mid first round pick from the Rockets, not to mention a future pick

    • Yes, but they’re protected draft picks…no guarantees of a good pick.

  4. So I guess Dwight Coward is gonna sign an extension with the Lakers. No respect for this d-bag. Move over Miami, your not the most hated team anymore!

  5. Umm.. they still got fleeced. They will have mid to late 1st round picks (aside from their own). Thinking that you go from having one of the best assets in the nba to rebuilding with a few extra picks is a fail.

    This REEKS of Vince Carter for 2 Williamses and 2 draft picks.

  6. It just doesn’t add up. Why wouldn’t they take the Houston deal? You have the opportunity to shed Hedo or JRich’s contract, get back a young talent in Royce White or Jeremy Lamb AND take on a couple of GOOD (potentially great) draft picks. Why wouldn’t you do this when given the chance? The only logical reason is that they really like Aaron Afflalo….

    Weird…but hey…this is the same team that resigned Jameer for over 8 mil a year….

    • Houston wouldn’t touch Hedo. They would take back either J-Rich or Baby, and give up *one* of their recent draft (but not Lamb), and two future firsts – one of their own, and Toronto’s crappy 2013 pick.

      The Magic instead got rid of J-Rich *and* Duhon, and got back an extra first plus two seconds, plus an extra young player.

      So the deal was basically Kevin Martin’s Expiring Contract, Royce White, Toronto’s 2013 crap pick and Houston’s 2013 crap pick (after they go 50 wins with Howard) for J-Rich and Howard. Versus Afflalo, Harkless and Vucevic, 3 firsts, 2 seconds for Howard, J-Rich, Duhon and Clark.

      And people *really* wonder why Orlando didn’t go with Houston?

    • Houston wouldn’t touch Hedo. They would take back either J-Rich or Baby, and give up *one* of their recent draft (but not Lamb), and two future firsts – one of their own, and Toronto’s crappy 2013 pick.

      The Magic instead got rid of J-Rich *and* Duhon, and got back an extra first plus two seconds, plus an extra young player.

      So the deal was basically Kevin Martin’s Expiring Contract, Royce White, Toronto’s 2013 crap pick and Houston’s 2013 crap pick (after they go 50 wins with Howard) for J-Rich and Howard. Versus Afflalo, Harkless and Vucevic, 3 firsts, 2 seconds for Howard, J-Rich, Duhon and Clark.

      And people *really* wonder why Orlando didn’t go with Houston?

  7. The pattern goes like this:

    Early in the offseason: Great deals because everything is on the table for the interested teams. (two great Chris Paul deals last year)

    Towards the end of the offseason: Not many great deals as interest teams lose their patience, set their teams and less comes into play. (Brooklyn did exactly that)

    Well into the season, heading towards the trade deadline: May get great deals because team become desperate and wants a playoff run. (Think NY-Den Melo trade)

    The magic played hardball in the beginning and lost out on some decent offers, and they couldn’t hold their ground until the trade deadline to get a good package. So they made the trade when the market is at its weakest. So the only rationale I can think of is that Orlando simply does not want another big since Dwight scarred them so deeply. How the hell to you not end up with another all star in this? Pau. Bynum, Iggy? As a piece for a future trades even!

    • When was the last time a legit superstar was traded for anything close to value? Hornets didn’t get an All Star. Nuggets didn’t get an All Star. Jazz didn’t get an All Star.

      And all of those teams had *much* stronger bargaining positions than Orlando. Yet the best they could do was potential All Stars.

  8. For it is written: Los Angeles shall summon unto themselves all of Orlando’s hall of fame centers until the end of time.

  9. The worst thing about this is there is not a single team in the NBA who would not match that offer and there are many who would improve upon it. They should have traded with Houston for a core of promising young players who won’t win anything on their own (insuring a decent tank-job). Instead, they took nothing and gifted the Lakers a new dynasty. Unbelievable.

    • Simple, the NBA would prefer to have star power in LA, regardless of whether it’s a reasonable transaction.

    • The Magic have been trying for months to get a better offer than that and couldn’t. Brooklyn couldn’t offer the salary flexibility or draft picks, Houston wouldn’t offer the talent or picks.

  10. Don’t understand your comment on Philadelphia. They just got the 2nd best center in the league. Jrue has never played with a legitimate center and now he has one of the best in the league with him.

    They traded Iguodala who they were never going to go forward with. And as for their off-season. It’s been hardly earth shattering and getting Kwame was strange regardless. But it was about getting players on short contracts allowing for greater flexibility.

    No Lou Williams? Hello Nick Young, Dorell Wright and now J -Rich.

    Of course a lot rides on Bynum signing an extension. But why wouldn’t he? Close to home, can get max, is the star, and has a good young team to work with.

    • 2nd best center when he’s surrounded by all-star talent. He’ll get more attempts, but far less good looks. Let’s see if he keeps that title

  11. Is it just me, or do the Lakers always pull-out deals like this? Makes me think that this is more business related than anything. A few years ago they did the same thing with Pau Gasol. These guys grab superstars for practically nothing. I understand they gave up Bynum but it’s not like he’s even going to Orlando. Just doesn’t make sense, especially considering the other deals that were on the table. A great lakers team is good for the league and brings in a lot of money for everyone. that’s the only way I can justify this deal.

    • How on earth is trading Bynum “practically nothing”? They traded the second best center in the NBA and a first round draft pick for the best center in the NBA, and in doing so took on two contracts Orlando didn’t want – one of which they were desperate to get rid of (the utterly catastrophic Duhon).

      That Orlando then turned Bynum into just Iggy, Harkless, Vucevic and draft picks doesn’t really have anything to do with LA.

    • Then why have NY, CHI and BOS sucked so bad for the better part of the last decade? Orlando management is just retarded, there is no other way to rationalize trades like this.

  12. The Houston Deal didn’t shed any contracts for Orlando and 3 Rookies and some Draftpicks aren’t better than Harringtons expireing contract, Afflalo, and some late Draft Picks.
    And to everybody if you have a bum Team and Howard you probably go to the playoffs so EVERY draftpick the Magic would have gotten would have been 15-30.

  13. This Lakers team reminds me a lot of the ’04 team of Shaq, Kobe, Payton and Malone that almost lost to Wally Szczerbiak’s broken back before getting schlocked by the Pistons.

    Kobe’s old, Howard has a bad back, and it’s going to take a while for Mike Brown to realize Jordan Hill is their 5th best player. I don’t see this team making it to the finals.

    The real winners of this trade are the Nuggets.

  14. I really don’t think this vaults the Lakers into title contention in any way other than on paper. Yeah, that’s a HELL of a starting five (Nash, Kobe, MWP, Pau, Dwight), but the team chemistry is FUCKED. Nash has nearly always worked in a heavy pick-and-roll offense, and Kobe almost never has. Indeed, Kobe has nearly always played in the triangle, where the ball is brought up by the 2-guard as often as not, and where the first option can expect to get most of the shots. Do you see him playing the pick-and-roll, with him on the block, with ANYONE? I sure don’t. Dwight is a great passing big man, but I don’t see him getting enough touches to warrant the number of kickouts he could provide. It reminds me a little too much of the ’03-’04 Laker team that had Karl Malone, Gary Payton, Kobe and Shaq and yet got smoked in the Finals by the “lowly” Pistons, who had only one All-Star (Ben Wallace) and yet blew LAL out in 3 of the 5 games of the series by playing great team ball.

    Also, Mike Brown is a terrible coach.

    • nash and gasol in the pick and roll/pop is pretty lethal, gasol and howard on the high low, kobe or nash on the iso this team has alot of plays that can be dominant for them, it all comes down to playimg team ball we know defensively their sound but its up to nash to make this team gel on offense, i think its going to take them a season or two, to finally learn their rolls on the team much like the heat their first year…

      • “It all comes down to playing team ball.”

        And we all know how much Kobe loves to do THAT.

      • Also, “it’s going to take them a season or two”? Like, once Nash is over 40, Gasol’s well off his prime and Kobe is retired (according to his most recent statement regarding such)??

  15. The Magic are insane.

    Brook Lopez, Kris Humpries, MarShon Brooks and 4 1st rounders. That’s a pretty good front court combo, a young stud who can score in bunches and will continue to improve, and a bit of help for the future.

    Instead, they chose a great wing shutdown guy, a nice piece on a contender, 2 decent young players who can improve and less picks for the future.

    I just don’t get it.

    • Let me help you “get it”, then.

      The Magic don’t want a “pretty good front court combo” which is horrifically overpaid, destroying the Magic’s cap flexibility, whilst being “good” enough to not get close to the playoffs (if you think a team with Nelson, Humphries and Lopez as the three “stars” is going to the playoffs, you need to put down the crack pipe.)

      The picks Brooklyn were offering are *much* worse than the picks the Magic got – with Howard and the rest, Brooklyn are a top 5 in the NBA team and all their picks would be 25-30 in the draft. In this deal, two of three three picks the Magic got are likely to be 20 or higher. Much more appealing.

      Brooks is a chucker who doesn’t play D and doesn’t score efficiently. Sure, he’s young, but so are Harkless and Vucevic, so the Magic got twice as many talented projects as the Nets were offering.

      Afflalo’s a trade asset at the very least – none of the players the Nets were offering had much trade value. So the Nets deal is less young talent, worse picks, and vastly less salary flexibility. The only things they offered were starting talent (which the Magic don’t want, because they want to be bad) and the ability to absorb bad contracts (which the Magic *did* want, but not enough to outweigh the other problems.)

      The Magic are going for cheap, talented and bad. The Nets couldn’t really help with any of that.

      • Except that not only did the magic not unload enough of their overpriced contracts, they took on MORE. So now they have a highly overpaid, mediocre team of baby, afflalo, harrington, turk & jameer that counter productively will play well enough to impact the magics lottery chances if they’re intending to tank. There is absolutely no wisdom in this trade.

      • Snide much? Lopez is a fine young center and the Brooklyn deal would have left the Magic much more competitive. The team they have now is doomed to the bottom of the heap indefinitely. They have no real NBA talent. That’s the plan? It’s a pretty big arena to fill. The Magic may be a disappearing act. And there could have lots of scenarios where the Nets got other #1 picks just like the Lakers did. The Magic failed. *Got it?*

  16. The Sixers need a Lou Williams type???? Have you ever seen Nick Young play a basketball game?

  17. Magic weren’t going to get anything better than this without gritting their teeth through half the season – which there was no way they would do.

    Once the Magic decided it was trade him pre-training camp or bust, the deal was always going to be horrible. A stripped back Rockets deal and Brooklyn’s turdburger deal are even worse than what the Magic eventually got, which is cap flexibility – not as much as they wanted, but some – young talent and draft picks. None of the alternative offers were for as good a combination of those three things as Orlando wanted. Yes, they could have kept talent in Bynum and locked up $14-21m of their cap for 6 years for him, but once they decided they wanted picks, youth and flexibility more than a guy not quite good enough to carry a franchise, this deal was the best of a really, really bad bunch.

  18. I think the point most editors here on TBJ have made that this is a bad trade not in comparison to other potential bad deals (houston, brooklyn) but in general. I also argued in the same way some people have in these comments – that the proposed brooklyn deal wasn’t much better – but I think this is more about how they should have waited longer to get a “good” deal as opposed to several more or less bad ones.

    But on the other hand: were the offers really going to be better later on? that’s not really logical. the melo trade was a stupid move by the knicks, you can’t rely on this kind of weird scenario to also come true for the magic.
    to me, there hasn’t been a really good trade proposal for the magic yet, and I think the management just panicked, as the deals looked to get worse and worse. the leverage orlando had shrunk with every day howard came closer to his definite goodbye at the end of this season. shoud’ve dealt him way before… but you’re always smarter in retrospect.

  19. Good stuff Mark, but what I think you’re missing is that this team is going to be mediocre, which is bad. They needed to trade away those high-salaried vets not only to clear cap, but to be able to bottom out. The guys they have now, they’re just good enough to make this team just below decent. Which isn’t what you want. The Magic needed to tank (a la New Orleans – and look where they are headed now), but now they’re just going to have a glut of overpaid vets, mid-teens/low-twenties picks, little cap room and picks of their own that aren’t high enough in the lottery. Just a confusing deal for Orlando

  20. The Magic look really smart right now for not taking Bynum. Hennigan def knows what hes doing. When people asked why he didn’t trade for Bynum he said “We did our research.” Orlando is in a great position right now, and Hennigan looks like a genius for not taking Bynum. Who actually gets injured while bowling anyways!?

    PS. Dwight Coward losing is the most gratifying thing ever lol

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