It seemed like for the better part of two or three years that the Orlando Magic were on the verge of trading Dwight Howard. The best center in the NBA made it well known he wanted to play for a bigger market and turned down every suggestion of signing an extension with the Magic.
With the Miami Heat loading up their team with superstars, Howard wanted to go play with a superstar player which is something he never had with the Magic. A couple possibilities were playing with Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks, Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers or Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
However, in the summer of 2012, all signs pointed to another team going out and grabbing Howard. The Brooklyn Nets under new ownership started adding pieces to make Brooklyn a viable destination for a free agent. They had Deron Williams and acquired Joe Johnson to form one of the better backcourts in the league. They also had a trade chip in center Brook Lopez to offer the Magic for Howard.
Although the two teams negotiated, nothing happened and Howard ended up being sent to the Lakers in a four-team trade. The main pieces that were moved was Howard going to L.A., Andre Iguodala went from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Denver Nuggets, the Lakers sent Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia and Orlando got Nikola Vucevic from Philadelphia and Arron Afflalo from Denver. There were a bunch of other players and draft picks that were involved, but these were the main pieces.
None of those teams made it out of the first round of the playoffs and Orlando and Philadelphia failed to make it altogether. For Orlando, it was the beginning of a rebuilding process with draft picks and young players. Bynum never played a game for the 76ers with lingering knee issues and they didn’t re-sign him at the end of the year. Howard left Los Angeles and joined forces with James Harden and the Houston Rockets. Iguodala left Denver and signed with the Golden State Warriors.
Out of the four teams involved in the trade, none look like they will make the playoffs this season. The Lakers have an aging roster and only have Bryant and Steve Nash under contract after this season. Orlando is stocked up on young talent and draft picks, but still seem a few years away from contending. But, both Vucevic and Afflalo deserved All-Star consideration this year. Afflalo is averaging over 20 points per game and Vucevic is averaging a double-double for the second-consecutive year.
The winner of this trade is the Rockets. Had Orlando sent Howard to Brooklyn, he may have signed a long-term deal with the Nets. The winner between Los Angeles and Orlando is the Lakers. They may have committed to Bynum long-term had they not dealt him which would have been a disaster. They still have Bryant and with a ton of cap space can sign a max contract and fill the roster with enough talent to compete next year.