Lakers: Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic), Chris Duhon (Magic), Earl Clark (Magic)
Nuggets: Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers)
76ers: Andrew Bynum (Los Angeles Lakers), Jason Richardson (Magic)
Magic: Arron Affalo (Denver Nuggets), Al Harrington (Nuggets), Nicola Vucevic (76ers), Moe Harkless (76ers), Josh McRoberts (Lakers), Christian Eyenga (Lakers), three first round draft picks (five picks overall)
At first glance, it would seem that everybody wins in this trade…except for the Magic.
In Dwight Howard, the Lakers get one of the consensus top-five players in the NBA today. He’s a three-time Defensive Player of the Year who averages 20 points and 14 rebounds. He’s been the All-NBA center the last five years straight. About the only thing he can’t do is shoot free throws. As for the other two players, they’re mostly throw-ins to even out the rosters. Duhon and Clark will play sparingly, if at all.
The 76ers are taking a big chance in this deal. Yes, Andrew Bynum is one of the up-and-coming young big men in the NBA. When he’s on his game, he looks dominant on both ends of the court. He’s a potential franchise center. However, he’s proven injury-prone, with only two seasons (including this past lockout-shortened one) out of his career six played in full. He’s also only got one year left on his deal. Richardson is here because he’s a half-decent player with a cumbersome salary.
The Nuggets, meanwhile, might have made the best deal out of the quartet. Andre Iguodala might lack in star power, but he’s spent his entire career quietly filling up the stat sheet. He’s also a tenacious defender, not to mention a gold medal-winning Olympian. While Iguodala can’t be viewed as a replacement for former Nugget (and fellow Olympian) Carmelo Anthony, but Iguodala’s team-first mentality will likely go a long way toward bridging that talent gap.
Despite the fact that Orlando gave up the best player, the overall return is less than impressive at first glance. Arron Affalo has been pretty good over the past couple of years, but at 26, he’s probably as good as he’s going to get. And Al Harrington was a strong player for a few years, but he’s slowing down as he ages and is significantly overpaid by the standards of his position. Eyenga, Harkless and Vucevic are young players with a lot still to learn, while McRoberts is the proverbial warm body. However, the wealth of draft picks will at least offer a chance to build a competitive team over the next few years. Orlando needs to build through the draft in order to be successful.
The long-term effects of this deal won’t be known for years to come, but in the short-term, it really looks like the Lakers, Nuggets and 76ers have all improved themselves in a significant way. L.A. is a championship-caliber team, while Denver and Philly have solidified their status as playoff teams.
The Magic? Maybe one or more of the young guys in the deal will make the leap or Affalo and/or Harrington experiences a renaissance. But more likely, Orlando will suffer through a long, losing season and wind up hoping for a high draft pick that – if they’re lucky – they can turn into another Dwight Howard.