ATLANTA, GA - FILE: Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic reacts after a turnover to the Atlanta Hawks during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. It was reported that the Orlando Magic have taken Dwight Howard off the market citing that none of the offers were worth pursuing December 14, 2011. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Dwight Howard is reportedly heading to the Los Angeles Lakers, according to various sources. As reported by ESPN, the drawn out drama that involved Howard's dissatisfaction with staying in Orlando finally found a release valve, and lo and behold, it is the mighty Lakers that stand to reap the benefits once again.
Now, my first reaction after seeing how this breaks down is that the Magic committed the biggest sin you can make whenever an elite player is involved - you never trade away an elite player for a non-elite player. The Magic had one of the best players in the game, and in return they get a nice non-All-Star starter in Afflalo along with 2 bench players. The price piece in Bynum ends up in Philadelphia, where the Sixers suddenly have a piece that allows them to compete with Miami. How the Magic decided, "nah, we'll pass on one of the 3 best centers in the league while we clean our hands of this Howard mess" is beyond me.
As for how this impacts the Thunder, I am personally ambivalent at this time. The reason why OKC crushed the Lakers in the playoffs is not because of their center play; it is because they have no perimeter defenders who can stay in front of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Yes, LA gained Steve Nash and now Howard, but how do either of those guys solve that defensive problem? It's a wait-and-see approach, but I would imagine that other Western teams are far more concerned today about LA than the Thunder are. As long as Pau Gasol remains a basket case for LA in the playoffs, I don't see how the Lakers jump the Thunder at this time.
More to come later in the day as we examine the ripple effects of this trade.
How do you think this Dwight Howard trade affects the Thunder?
I'm terrified; the Lakers are now the Western front runners (63 votes)
Moderately concerned; the Lakers still have no answer for Durant & Westbrook (45 votes)
Ambivalent; Howard is not a major upgrade over Bynum (8 votes)
Happy; LA's hopes will be delightfully dashed as OKC erases them from the playoffs once again (20 votes)
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