The “Superman” era is officially over (again) in Orlando.
In a story first broken by ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Orlando Magic have agreed to send disgruntled superstar center Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers in a 4-team trade that will also include the Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers.
The Los Angeles Lakers will receive Howard, the 76ers will acquire Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson, the Nuggets will get Andre Iguodala and the Magic will receive Aaron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, rookie Moe Harkless and one protected first-round pick from each of the other 3 teams involved. More young players may also be sent to Orlando in the deal.
It’s also being speculated that Magic players Chris Duhon and Earl Clark may be shipped to Los Angeles along with Dwight.
This trade is now awaiting approval by David Stern and league officials. (Stern wouldn’t veto the Lakers twice, would he?)
Grade for Los Angeles Lakers: A +
Not only do the Lakers receive the best center in the NBA today (with all do respect to Bynum) in Dwight Howard, but they somehow managed to keep Pau Gasol in the process?
That doesn’t seem fair for the rest of the league, does it?
Andrew Bynum is a true all-star center with the potential to be far greater than he already is, but Howard presents an upgrade in almost every facet of the game. He’s more athletic, a far greater defender and a much more dominant force in the paint.
Obviously, there are some major red flags that come with acquiring the teams second-coming of “Superman”. His attitude problems are now infamous around the league, he’s just coming off of a recent back surgery and there is absolutely no guarantee that he will re-sign with the team at the end of the 2012-13 season.
With all that being said, this is a deal the Lakers had to make. Having only to give up Bynum (a player who very well could have left at the end of his contract) and a first-round pick (which will end up being a late pick anyways) to get Dwight Howard seems too good to be true.
This doesn’t guarantee the Los Angeles Lakers a spot in the NBA Finals by any means. The Oklahoma City Thunder should still be considered the cream of the crop in the Western Conference, but this mega deal along with the recent acquisitions of Steve Nash and Antawn Jamison put the Lakers right back in the championship picture.
Grade for Orlando Magic: D -
The only reason I’m not giving the Magic a resounding “F” is because they’ve now finally ridden themselves of the “Dwightmare” that is Dwight Howard.
That’s got to account for something.
It’s nice to finally move on from all of the unnecessary drama Howard was giving the franchise, but when the key pieces coming back to your team are Aaron Afflalo and a bunch of draft picks of little to no value, all you can really do is laugh.
In a four-team trade that saw all-stars Andrew Bynum and Andre Igoudala find new homes, you would think that one of the two would be heading over to the Orlando Magic.
This is just a plain old awful deal for the Magic. This franchise has clearly hit rock bottom and will now be forced to rebuild through the draft for the next 4-5 years. Guys like Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless are nice young pieces, but neither player will make any sort of immediate impact on this team that will warrant any interest.
I understand why the Magic didn’t want to acquire Pau Gasol and his large contract in the deal (stalls the rebuilding process), but considering the team just gave up their franchise guy and one of the top 6-7 players in the entire league, at least the presence of Gasol in the deal would have healed some of those deep wounds a lot quicker.
There is no redeeming aspect of this trade at all. Magic fans should be burying their heads in the sand right about now.
Welcome to the Aaron Afflalo era!
Grade for Denver Nuggets: B
2 of the Nuggets 4 leading scorers from last season are now out the door in order to bring in an all-star who has seen his scoring numbers drop off each of the past 3 seasons.
I’m totally ok with that.
The Philadelphia 76ers were never a team that was built around Iguodala. It was a team built off of the sum of its parts rather than putting a bunch of guys around Andre and moving on from there.
Lest we forget, last season was Iguodala’s worst scoring season in over 6 years and he still made the Eastern Conference all-star team.
The Nuggets offer Andre a chance to be more of a focal point in an offense than what he experienced in Philly. Iguodala is well-known for his strong perimeter defense and pesky hands, but he’s a terribly underrated scorer who still has a lot of gas left in the tank as far as putting up big numbers on the offensive end goes.
Grade for Philadelphia 76ers: B +
Andre Iguodala was going to be sent packing regardless. The 76ers franchise was constantly shopping their all-star small forward with hopes of shoring up their weak front court.
Philadelphia was just 1 win away from the Eastern Conference finals. Many observers believe that if the team had a go-to scorer down low and a defensive backbone in the paint, that they could have very well found themselves competing in the Eastern Conference finals instead of the Boston Celtics last season.
Andrew Bynum solves all of their problems in that regard. He’s a player that can easily get the Sixers 20 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks a game on a nightly basis and is the best low post threat the team has had in years.
The only downside is that Bynum has the option to leave at the end of the upcoming season and offer his services to the highest bidder in free agency.
Winning solves everything though.
Andrew isn’t nearly as concerned about where he plays as Howard is. If the 76ers can prove that they are committed to winning and make a strong run in the playoffs next season, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Bynum sign an extension and remain with the organization for the next 4-5 years, if of course he’s offered the hefty sum he feels he deserves.
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports