The Magic passed on repeated overtures from Brooklyn, and refused to deal with Houston (despite the Rockets offering all the oil in Texas) because Dwight Howard didn’t want to play there. So this is what Orlando got for star center Dwight Howard (and they lost Jason Richardson, Earl Clark and Chris Duhon, too) in a blockbuster 4-team trade first reported by Yahoo Thursday:
G Arron Afflalo – 3 years, $22.5 million; 4th year player option at $7.7 million
F Al Harrington – 3 years, $22 million
F/C Nikola Vucevic – 1 year, $1.7 million; rookie contract team option for next two years
F Moe Harkless (rookie)
3 first-round draft picks
2013 second-round pick from the Nuggets
Yuck. Here’s the problem – this isn’t a bottom five team in the NBA based on the trade. A bad team that misses the playoffs and wins 30 games? Yes. But not a terrible team in the mix for the No. 1 pick. This is your immediate future, Orlando:
PG – Jameer Nelson
SG – Aaron Afflalo/JJ Redick
SF – Hedo Turkoglu/Andrew Nicholson/Moe Harkless
PF – Al Harrington/Big Baby Davis
C – Ayon/Vucevic/Kyle O’Quinn
Would you have rather taken on Brook Lopez, his contract, and draft picks, or the Afflalo/Harrington package? Reminder: all these draft picks will be crap – Philly, Denver and LA are making the playoffs, so forget any of those being lottery picks. The bright side of Lopez would have been the potential for injury, thus enhancing your chances of getting in the mix for the No. 1 pick.
The only positives here? Afflalo is a very nice defender, shot 39 percent on 3-pointers, and is only 26. I’m bullish on Harkless, who was a stud at St. John’s, but he’s not ready to be a factor. O’Quinn and Nicholson looked good in summer league, whatever that’s worth.
Let’s move on to the 76ers, who I loved before this trade, and now really, really, really love. What they lose in Iguodala’s defense on the perimeter, they gain in Bynum’s power and defense inside. If you’re under the assumption that Evan Turner can be nearly as good of a defender as Iguodala in a year or two (raises hand), then this is a massive win for Philly.
PF: Kwame Brown/Allen/Moultrie
SF: Evan Turner/Thad Young/Dorrell Wright
SG: Jason Richardson/Nick Young
Love that roster. Excellent depth. Your 2nd unit has scorers like the Youngs and Wright. Turner can play three positions. The only major flaw is you’ve got some chuckers (Wright, J-Rich, Nick Young), and the potential for problems between hot head Andrew Bynum and Doug Collins (remember, Collins was in DC with Kwame Brown as a rookie, and Collins/Jordan crushed Brown, then 18, on a daily basis). I’ll pencil in Philly 3rd in the East behind Miami and Boston and ahead of Indiana.
Denver? The Nuggets will now have to deal with the Thunder and Lakers in the West, which means three of the 10 best players in the NBA (Durant, Westbrook, Howard) will block them in the playoffs over the next 5-8 years. What I like about Denver is the Nuggets traded away Carmelo Anthony but got enough in return to make the playoffs two years in a row. Here’s how things look for the Nuggets, who will make the playoffs again:
C – JaVale McGee
PF – Faried
SF – Gallinari
SG – Iguodala
PG – Ty Lawson
That’s a formidable starting lineup. They’ve got a shot-blocking center, an emerging shot-blocking talent at power forward, and one of the best wing defenders in Iguodala. Problem: The West is absolutely loaded. The Lakers/Thunder are going to be 1-2 (maybe flip-flopped). The Spurs aren’t dead yet. I thought the Clippers would be better than the Lakers … not anymore. And we didn’t even mention the likes of Memphis and Minnesota. Utah’s not bad either. I’d put the Nuggets in the 3-6 range in the West.