Howard heads to Tinseltown as US Olympians prevail in London
Dave Larsen, Sentinel EditorWhile LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and the rest of the Team USA’s men’s basketball team were winning gold in London, Dwight Howard got his wish and was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
The four-team deal unites the National Basketball League’s top pivot man with a Hall of Fame point guard (Steve Nash, added to the roster earlier) and scorer (Bryant). The Lakers even kept Spanish star Pau Gasol, who earned a silver medal in London playing for his homeland, in their frontline to team up with Howard.
Andrew Bynum ended up with the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers sent Andre Iguodala, another Olympic gold medalist, to the Denver Nuggets.
Howard’s old team, Orlando, got the worst end of the deal … at least in the short run. The Magic received guard Arron Afflalo and forward Al Harrington from Denver, forward Moe Harkless and center Nikola Vucevic from Philadelphia, forward Josh McRoberts and guard Christian Eyenga from the Lakers.
In addition to Howard, the Lakers also picked up guard Chris Duhon and forward Earl Clark from Orlando. The Magic also traded guard Jason Richardson to Philadelphia.
Looking further down the road, the Magic will also get a second-round draft pick from Denver next year, a first-round pick from either Denver or New York in 2014, a conditional first-round pick from Philadelphia, a conditional second-round pick from the Lakers in 2015, and a conditional first-round pick from the Lakers in 2017.
Orlando also has a $17.8 million trade exception to use over the next year.
The Miami Heat changed the way NBA clubs do business by uniting three top-tier talents and a complimentary roster of role players to win their first league title. With the
addition of Howard, the Lakers made themselves the front-runners in the NBA’s Western Conference for the 2012-13 season.
The question is: will Howard fit in?
Howard moves from Orlando, where he was the face of the franchise and the central point of the team’s offensive and defensive sets. In Los Angeles, Bryant and Gasol are more accomplished scorers. With the pass-first Nash manning the point, Howard will get his touches on the offensive end, but if the Lakers are to mesh as a championship-caliber club, Howard has to accept his role as the third-best option when Los Angeles has the ball.
Bryant won’t play forever. Neither will the aging Nash, who needs a good back-up to keep his minutes down and his stamina up throughout the grueling NBA regular season. Still, Bryant is a clutch performer. Gasol is one of the best power forwards in the world. Nash can still effectively run an offense. And
Howard is younger and stronger than any of them, as well as widely regarded as the best big man in the game today.
If Howard can be the interior defensive force and rebounding machine everyone believes he can be in L.A., the Lakers are serious contenders for a title … now. But if there is any grousing about not getting the ball enough, this trade could go down as one of biggest failures of all time.
The Lakers are Bryant’s team. One day, when Bryant retires, Howard will again be the face of a franchise. But until that time comes, he has to be content with contending for titles and playing a complimentary role to his Hall of Fame-bound shooting guard.
The expectation level for Lakers’ fans has been raised to the roof, just as it was for the folks in Miami two years ago. Anything less than a Western Conference title and a run at Miami by L.A. for the whole shebang will be seen as a failure in the upcoming season.
Personally, I can’t wait to see how this plays out later this year and next.
The Olympic Games in London closed out Sunday. I caught some of the closing ceremonies on the tube. Just like the athletics events the previous two-plus weeks, the closing ceremony was fantastic.
The Brits did a great job putting on the games. From opening to closing and everything in between.
The United States again came out on top of the gold medal and total medal standings, eclipsing its best performance at an Olympics on foreign soil. Team USA’s win over Spain in men’s basketball marked our country’s 46th, and final, gold medal.
Great Britain did well in competitions, as well as playing gracious host to the games. The Brits bagged their biggest medal haul since 1908 – 29 gold and 65 medals in all.
In the end, many world-famous athletes proved they are the best in their business: from James and USA Basketball, to three-time gold medal winners Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings, to Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who became the first Olympian to win back-to-back gold in the 100 and 200-meter dash events.
It was must-see TV, but life goes on, and so do the pennant races in baseball and National Football League training camps and exhibition games. We’ll touch on both next week.
Until then, go Packers!