Howard heads to Lakers in four-team dealDenver, Philadelphia also involved in 12-player blockbuster
According to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojanarowski, the Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, and Denver Nuggets have finalized a blockbuster four-team deal with Howard at the epicenter, with a conference call to the league office on Friday afternoon officially ending D12’s tenure in central Florida.
The deal, which has a dozen players and four draft picks on the move, sees the Lakers getting Howard, as well as point guard Chris Duhon and forward Earl Clark, from Orlando; the Sixers receiving center Andrew Bynum from LA and shooting guard Jason Richardson from Orlando; and the Nuggets acquiring swingman Andre Iguodala from Philly.
The Magic, meanwhile, get a gigantic package of six players, including guard Aaron Afflalo and forward Al Harrington from Denver, center Nikola Vucevic and rookie guard Maurice Harkless from Philly, and forwards Josh McRoberts and Christian Eyenga from the Lakers, as well as all four of the draft picks involved – a future first-round pick with multiple protections from Philly, the lower of the Nuggets’ two first-round choices in 2014, the Lakers’ first-rounder in 2017, and a 2013 second-round choice from Denver (via Golden State).
According to Wojnarowski, the framework of the deal started coming together in late July, with Orlando, Los Angeles, and Philly discussing a three-way swap – but sources said that the trio ultimately determined a fourth team was needed that could take on Iguodala and also provide Orlando with the necessary future draft picks to make it work, which prompted Denver to join discussions over the last week.
The blockbuster is the final culmination of a tenuous last eight months for Howard, who has expressed his desire to be traded from Orlando since the beginning of the 2011-12 NBA season. The six-time All-Star, who said he felt the Magic weren’t doing enough to build a winner around him, chose the Nets, Lakers, and Mavericks as his top choices for a new destination – citing the chance to play with Deron Williams and the Nets’ move to Brooklyn as top reasons for including them on that list.
That led to a “will he go or won’t he” vibe surrounding Howard at this year’s trade deadline, a limbo made more complicated due to the fact that he had an Early Termination Option in his contract that would let him void the final year and become a free agent on July 1. Howard “opted in,” but missed the final month of the season (including the Magic’s first-round playoff series with Indiana) due to back surgery, and watched as the team fired coach Stan Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith shortly thereafter.
And now, Howard is gone as well, off to LA to form a new “Big 3” with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, who himself was rumored to be part of a potential D12 deal. Howard will still be a free agent after the 2012-13 season, and even though he isn't expected to immediately sign an extension, Bryant for one is happy to have him at least in the short-term.
"Well, it looks like Superman has found a home," Bryant wrote on his Facebook page Friday afternoon. "The Lakers have landed a piece that will hopefully carry the franchise long after I'm gone. I have spoken to Dwight Howard, and we are locked and loaded to hopefully bring back the title."
Bryant and Howard could have been teammates even sooner as well, as both were slotted in for spots on the U.S. Olympic Team. Howard of course was left off the team due to injury, but Bryant and his Olympic teammates are undefeated so far in London, and the U.S. will play Argentina in the semifinals later Friday with the winner going on to face Spain in the Gold Medal Game on Sunday.
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