The case for trading Dwight Howard to the Lakers | Magic Basketball

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Jul 06

The case for trading Dwight Howard to the Lakers

Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

The Orlando Magic are going to trade Dwight Howard sometime between now and the start of training camp in September. That much is clear.

Where Otis Smith’s regime made a habit of making franchise-altering decisions based on what they thought would please their mercurial superstar, new general manager Rob Hennigan seems to want no part of the charade. Dwight is effectively gone, and everybody knows it. The deal that Hennigan takes to move him will tell us a lot about his vision for the franchise, and Howard’s two most high-profile suitors embody the dichotomy between the win-now approach and that of tearing the entire thing up and starting over.

There’s always the outside chance that a team like the Rockets or Hawks will swoop in with an offer, but for all intents and purposes, it’s pretty safe to assume that Howard will tip off the 2012-13 NBA season either as a Brooklyn Net or a Los Angeles Laker. It’s common knowledge that he prefers the former destination.

However, looking at the packages the two teams can offer, it’s tough to argue that it’s not in the best interests of the Magic organization for Howard to wear purple and gold. Orlando won’t reap the rewards of this move right away, and fans will likely be in for two seasons of middling to outright bad basketball. But if Hennigan wants to wash his hands of Howard and Smith entirely, it’s the only way to go.

Here’s what the ideal trade would look like, fundamentally: Howard would go to the Lakers, along with Jason Richardson and Glen Davis, who are owed a combined $38 million over the next three seasons. In addition to receiving Andrew Bynum, who has long been Orlando’s top target in any Howard deal, the Magic would take back the contracts of Steve Blake and Metta World Peace, which expire a year earlier than those of Richardson and Big Baby.

By itself, this may not seem that significant. But in addition to the combined $11.7 million Blake and World Peace are owed in the final year of their contracts, here’s what else comes off Orlando’s books in the summer of 2014: Hedo Turkoglu ($12 million if they keep him, $6 million if he is waived), Chris Duhon ($3.5 million), and Quentin Richardson ($2.8 million). That’s nearly $30 million in expiring money they can either trade for picks and younger players or keep to position themselves as major players during free agency in 2014.

The Lakers have been hesitant to put Bynum on the table without a commitment from Howard to stick around long-term, which was a perfectly understandable position to take before they stunned the entire NBA on Wednesday by swinging a sign-and-trade deal for Steve Nash.

Now?

They have to like their chances of convincing Howard not to walk away from Nash, Kobe, Pau Gasol, the Los Angeles market and all of the opportunities it offers, the extra year and $24 million or so they could pay him, and the chance to play for a perennial contender. Making Bynum available is worth that gamble.

Bynum is not a perfect centerpiece for the Magic. He’s had knee issues, and the concerns about his maturity and work ethic are not unfounded. But while he’s not on Howard’s level as a center, he’s the closest thing the league has. And taking him out of the shadow of Kobe and Gasol and making him the focal point of the franchise, not to mention the Bird rights Orlando would hold over him, are factors one would think would swing him to the “engaged” side of the pendulum.

The combination of Bynum and cap relief is certainly preferable to the package the Nets have to offer. One solid young prospect (MarShon Brooks) and two sure-to-be-overpaid sign-and-trade pieces (Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries) along with a few mid-20s draft picks is not the way to rebuild. It strikes me, in fact, as precisely the type of haul Otis Smith would have fallen over himself to accept. It would keep the Magic in the first- or second-round exit purgatory they’ve been in the last two seasons, with no end in sight to the bad contracts they would be forced to take on to make Howard’s salary work for the capped-out Nets.

With the Lakers’ trade, there is a clear end-point to an era best left dead and buried.

17 comments
Gocoldturkey
Gocoldturkey

Great analysis Sean.  What you have written in this article seems to be the best case scenario for the Magic long term.  I'm glad Hennington has the vision for the future success of the team and not the short sighted gratification like Otis Smith possessed in the last few seasons like you pointed out.  It seems like a trade such as this is definitely a very positive direction to take for the Magic's much needed rebuilding project.  I have onequestion though: do you think it would be possible for the Magic to acquire Devin Ebanks in a trade with the Lakers as well, or is that just getting too greedy?

matte13720
matte13720

Let me just add, the Lakers deal does sound better then the current Nets (assumed offer). Still, if the Nets can work something out to work in a third team to give the Magic some kind of cap relief or if they offer Brooks, Lopez and Marrow (keep Kris Humphries or give him and take Hedo) then that deal sounds good (if the money worked out cap wise).

matte13720
matte13720

Okay, I was cool with the Nets trade but they need to offer Brooks , Lopez and Marrow. The Magic could give J-Rich to completely go young. The Nets want to win now? I know they just got Jo Johnson but J-Rich coming off the bench would really help them win. The picks are low but the Magic will have pretty good picks for at least two of those years, I high 20's first rounder will move you up a few spots, assuming you can get a trade. 

weriov
weriov

Great stuff, Sean.  Keeping in mind that the Magic are never going to get truly "fair value" back for Dwight, I'd be much more excited about a Lakers-oriented trade than the deal the Nets are floating.  One question: when you present the outline of the Dwight-for-Bynum swap, is this your own creation, or is it a deal that's actually been proposed?

erivera7
erivera7 moderator

 @weriov A framework for a Dwight-for-Bynum trade has pretty much almost always been there for the Magic. It's the ancillary parts of the deal, as well as the Lakers' willingness to make the trade that's been the cause for no further action. 

erivera7
erivera7 moderator

Ignore @elonepb . He's a Nets troll. He's been banned. 

CarloSimone
CarloSimone

 @erivera7  I thought you loved trolls, Eddy.  You devoted a website to them.

erivera7
erivera7 moderator

 @CarloSimone I don't mind trolling in good fun. I DO mind people bringing along blatantly biased opinions aboard this website. 

elonepb
elonepb

Yeah sounds all dandy, but severely flawed. First of all, LA is NOT accepting Hedo, Duhon & J-Rich without a commitment from Howard, which he is apparently not going to give any team by Brooklyn. Second, Orlando would be trading for a center with shaky knees who is going to become a free agent NEXT summer? So the Magic can go through this again? And then the Magic are locked up with a max (yes he's getting a max) contract for the next 5 years? And the Lakers have no draft picks to send. So while Brooklyn's might be mid-20's, so would the Lakers - except you can't even get any from them after the Nash deal.

 

So basically it's Lakers deal of max contract free agency conundrum next summer, no cap relief, and no draft picks - or - Nets give you 20PPG center with poor rebounding/defense at probably $12M a year, find a third team for Humphries, MarShon Brooks, and 3-4 mid-to-late draft first round picks. Sorry, but that's a no brainer.

JamisonA
JamisonA

 @elonepb I believe you misread the part about Hedo, Duhon and Q-Rich.  They would not be traded to LA.  We would keep them, but their contracts would come off the books in 2014 (The same time that Blake's and Metta's would if we were able to swap their contracts with J-Rich and Big Baby's).  That's the true value of the trade. We suck it up for 2 years, accepting first round playoff exits or hoping for some lottery luck (paging Pat Williams).  But there is light at the end of that tunnel.  The NJ scenario offers no light, just another 5 years of overpaid role players.

elonepb
elonepb

 @JamisonA Not sure I follow. You are saying Lakers would be a swap of bad contracts which I get. But Nets would take them away completely if they can match the salaries at the 125% mark. Which is more overpaid, Lopez at $12M over 4 or Bynum at $19M over 5 years? Plus you get draft picks in addition to your own pick (likely lottery)?

erivera7
erivera7 moderator

 @elonepb  The Nets' trade package would do nothing to help the Magic. End of story. It would lock them up in perpetual mediocrity. 

CarloSimone
CarloSimone

 @JamisonA  @elonepb Right.  There's a defined long-term plan with the Lakers trade whereas the Nets trade is more of a crapshoot towards mediocrity in the long term.  Plus, never forget that moving Dwight to the Western Conference is always preferable.

CarloSimone
CarloSimone like.author.displayName 1 Like

Great post, Sean.  I'd be very surprised if they took Baby and Richardson.  I could see Richardson because the Lakers need shooting.  Also, we obviously have to match Anderson's offer if we're getting rid of Baby but then we should do that anyways.  We'd be pretty thin at PF unless Nicholson has an amazing rookie season but then sucking isn't really an issue now because we're looking for picks.  I love the idea that we would have a clear target of 2014 for free agency and trades.  Having a clear plan is something that was missing in the Otis years.  I'm not crazy about Metta, but the timeline fits our potential 2014 plan and he'd give us perimeter D in the interim which we've been sorely lacking.

 

I say pull the trigger on this.