Are we ready to live in a world where the Lakers just got Dwight Howard and didn't have to give up Pau Gasol? It looks like we don't have a choice anymore. According to reports from pretty much everyone — but let's say Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski, because who wants to give ESPN credit for this after Ric Bucher threw shade at Woj for a report that ended up being true? — the deal that is all but finalized breaks down like this:
• Dwight Howard
• Chris "Travel Dance" Duhon
• Earl "Admit it you thought I was out of the league" Clark
• Andrew "Mike Brown is dancing his Mr. Potato Head ass around Staples now that I'm gone" Bynum
• Jason Richardson
• Arron Afflalo
• Al Harrington
• Maurice "I'm going to regret telling people to stop calling me 'Moe'" Harkless
• Nikola Vucevic
• Josh "McBob" McRoberts
• 3 protected first round picks
• The head of former Magic GM Otis Smith in a bag*
• Andre "So this is what it feels like to not be on the trading block anymore" Iguodala
*AH! Spoke too soon. "Sources" tell me that the beheaded Otis Smith provision of the deal will likely be nixed by the league. The Magic (and Joffrey Baratheon) are going to be disappointed to hear that.
So besides the fact that the Lakers' suddenly terrifying starting five features Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, and Kobe Bryant (and the bloated, crazy-eyed corpse of Metta Ron World Artest, but that's not really important), what are the takeaways here?
Word is that neither Bynum nor Howard will sign an extension, so it's entirely possible that we get to run this whole show back in a year (*everyone collectively jumps out the nearest window*). But on a more interesting (and less suicide-inducing) note, isn't this a great move for Philadelphia and Denver? The Nuggets were solid last year without a single playmaker or defender of Iguodala's caliber and though they'll be sad to see Afflalo go, it's unlikely he'll be missed. A starting lineup of Lawson, Iggy, Gallinari, Kenneth "Manimal" Faried, and the surprisingly good in the playoffs JaVale McGee definitely should raise this team's ceiling, particularly as everyone in that starting five other than Iggy will likely improve significantly in the coming seasons.
As for Philadelphia, it's definitely a risk to take on Bynum without a guarantee that he'll re-sign, but he is the second best center in the league. A core of Jrue Holiday (a solid, but not great NBA starter), Evan Turner (a potential All-Star), Thad Young (a frustrating but talented wing), Spencer Hawes (a solid big man so long as he's not your go-to low post guy), and Andrew Bynum (instantly the best center in the Eastern Conference) is a sizable upgrade over where they were yesterday.
Orlando walks away with Afflalo and Harkless (along with the draft picks) as long-term pieces (maybe Vucevic too, but he was never really that impressive at USC), and though it's not the most they could have gotten — Bynum and Brook Lopez would have been better immediate help, though both have drawbacks (Bynum's possible unwillingness to re-sign, Lopez needing to be overpaid to make a deal happen) — it will certainly help them bottom out for a lottery pick. It's also surprising that they couldn't find a way to rid themselves of Turkoglu's absurd contract in the process.
Meanwhile the Lakers find a way to make themselves the favorites in the West (sorry OKC) overnight. Not giving up Gasol is enough to make all non-LA-based NBA fans write angry screeds in Comic Sans. Of course, the trade isn't complete yet, and we all remember what happened with the Chris Paul to Lakerland deal:
So I think I'm not alone in saying: "Help us Dan Gilbert, you're our only hope."
Edit: This story was edited to add Josh McRoberts to the trade, which obviously changes everything and makes Orlando an immediate title contender... Oh wait... Nevermind.
Edit 2: The final trade also includes Christian "Skyenga" Eyenga, who I had the pleasure of watching in Cleveland. And by "pleasure," I mean, once in a while he would dunk the ball in a cool way, but he's still learning the fundamentals of the game. Additionally the Magic will receive two second round picks in the deal. Most likely none of the five draft picks in the trade will be lottery picks.