2012 Offseason: Analyzing the Dwight Howard blockbuster deal


16 years after losing their star center Shaquille O’Neal to the Los Angeles Lakers, it’s happened again to the Orlando Magic.

After nearly a year of publicly telling reporters that he wanted to be moved, Dwight Howard finally got his wish and will be a member of the star-studded Lakers next season.

The four-team, multiple-player deal goes like this:

  • Los Angeles Lakers receives Dwight Howard, Chris Duhon and Earl Clark from Orlando
  • Philadelphia 76ers receive Andrew Bynum from LA and Jason Richardson from Orlando
  • Denver Nuggets acquires Andre Iguodala from Philadelphia
  • Orlando Magic get Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington from Denver, Nikola Vucevic and Maurice (Moe) Harkless from Philadelphia, Josh McRoberts and Christian Eyenga from LA and one protected future first round draft pick from each of the teams

As it stands, the Lakers have given up very little and gotten the best center in the league. They gave up a true headache of a player (Bynum) for Howard: three-time Defensive Player of the Year, six-time All-Star, and five-time All-NBA First Team member.

Not only that, but they keep Pau Gasol, leaving them with at least three viable go-to options on offense. Steve Nash could very well average a career-low in points but a career-high in assists with the amount of offensive options at his disposal, and Kobe Bryant will have even less defensive pressure on  him now that the Lakers have another player in Howard that teams have to worry about.

Los Angeles isn’t the only winner here, though. Philadelphia gets a 24-year old big man who, when engaged and active, is likely the second-best center behind only Howard; they also clear up the logjam they have at small forward, while clearing cap space. Losing such a good defensive player will definitely affect their perimeter defense, but if Bynum plays to his potential, he could be a serious force to reckon with in the paint.

Denver receives a legitimate defender and a marketable star, albeit a very underrated one. Iguodala has raised his profile with his stellar defense and thunderous dunks in the 2012 London Olympics, leaving many more people aware of his abilities. Nuggets head coach George Karl is going to enjoy having another tenacious defender who can cause a turnover, run down the court, and create quick offense. Denver is easily the “silver medal” winner in this trade, with an extremely athletic frontcourt including Kenneth Faried, JaVale McGee, Danilo Gallinari and Iguodala.

The Magic are easily the losers in this deal. Not only do they not get any of the major big men involved in this trade (or Pau Gasol) or any current above-average players, they also are receiving draft picks from teams that will likely be in the lower part of the first round. Afflalo is a solid defender and can shoot from three-point range, but has never been a first option – he’s really more of a complementary guard. Harrington has played 14 years in the NBA and has never really been more than a shooter who is just subpar on defense. The rest of Orlando’s haul (Vucevic, Harkless, McRoberts, Eyenga) is a group of relatively raw and unproven talent, leaving the Magic with a larger roster than before, but not much to show for it. The best case scenario for next season’s Magic team is a high lottery pick, something they haven’t gotten since Howard in 2004.

David Stern’s approval of this trade will likely leave fans scratching their heads, as he overturned the Lakers attempted trade for Chris Paul last season; that trade was easily more balanced for all teams than this one is. The team with the most to lose (Orlando) easily got the worst part of the deal, while add-on teams like Denver and Philadelphia upgraded their squads. The “competitive balance” that Stern hopes to keep in the NBA has taken a serious hit with this trade, and it pushes Los Angeles right to the top of the Western Conference.