Most major-league trades, any sport, it takes awhile to tell who wins. But not the blockbuster NBA trade of last summer that made Dwight Howard a Laker, Andre Iguodala a Nugget and Andrew Bynum a 76er.
The winner? Orlando.
Remember the deal?
The Magic traded Howard, Earl Clark and Chris Duhon to the Lakers. The Magic also traded Jason Richardson to the 76ers.
The Nuggets traded Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, a 2013 second-round draft pick (that became OU’s Romero Osby), a 2014 first-round pick to the Magic.
The Lakers traded Christian Eyenga, Josh McRoberts and a 2017 first-round pick to the Magic. The Lakers also traded Bynum to the 76ers.
The 76ers traded Iguodala to the Nuggets. The 76ers also traded Mo Harkless, Nikola Vucevic and a future first-round pick to the Magic.
So let’s review.
The Lakers traded Eyenga, McRoberts, a 2017 first-round draft pick and one year of Bynum for one year of Howard, one year of Clark and one year of Duhon. Howard became a free agent this summer and is headed to the Rockets. Clark became a free agent this summer and is headed to Cleveland. Duhon was waived by the Lakers last month. Bynum was injured and never played for Philadelphia, while Howard was a lightning rod of a disappointing season for the Lakers, even though he still played dominant center. The Lakers got the better end of the Bynum/Howard portion of the trade. On the other hand, had LA kept Bynum, it might have been able to keep him past this summer, although who knows if it would have wanted to.
OK, Denver. The Nuggets gave up Afflalo, who signed through at least 2015; Harrington, who is signed through 2015; a Romero Osby-caliber player; and a first-round pick in the loaded 2014 draft. Denver received one year of Iguodala, who this summer signed a free agent contract with the Warriors. Denver had a franchise-record 57 wins in 2012-13. But still. Much like Howard, the Nuggets merely rented a quality and had very little to show for it. Denver did not get past the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
Let’s move to Philadelphia. The 76ers gave up one year of Iguodala; Harkless, who just turned 20 and already has 59 NBA starts to his credit; Vucevic, a 6-foot-10, 22-year-old center who for the Magic averaged 13.1 points and 11.9 rebounds a game last season; and a future first-round draft pick. Philly got Jason Richardson and Andrew Bynum. Richardson played just 33 games for the 76ers and shot just 40.2 percent from the field. He’s 32 years old and his best basketball is long past. Bynum didn’t play a lick, because of knee injury, and now is a Cavalier.
Finally, Orlando. The Magic gave up one year of Howard, one year of Clark, plus Duhon and Richardson. The Magic got Afflalo, a decent shooter and good defender, for at least three years. Orlando also got a rookie, Harkless, who was good enough to start; Harrington, a decent reserve who at least can shoot but who played just 10 games in 2012-13; Vucevic, a promising center; McRoberts, who was traded away in February basically for nothing; Eyenga, who was waived before last season; and two first-round draft picks, including one in the rich 2014 draft.
Are you kidding me? Just getting Vucevic for Howard would have been a success for Orlando. But the Magic also got Harkless, Afflalo and two first-round picks. Magic general manager Rob Hennigan, plucked away from Sam Presti’s Thunder front office, made a dazzling deal. He upgraded Orlando’s future, and the only thing it cost him was one year of Dwight Howard. The Magic’s final year with Howard was miserable, no reason to think another year would have been any different.
The winner, by a landslide, was Orlando, the franchise that seemed to be the biggest loser in the Dwight Howard saga of last summer.