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.