The Dwightmare Effect: Grading The Teams
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The basketball world finally received the news it has long been collectively waiting for, as Dwight Howard was traded in a four-team blockbuster this weekend and is now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. The trade also involved the Sixers and the Nuggets, seeing 12 players and 5 draft picks change teams in order for the Magic to at last grant Howard his liberation. So with the first day of school just around the corner for most students, it’s time for some Trade Grades. Magic fans, you might want to stop reading.
Out- Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga, Andrew Bynum, 2nd Round conditional 2015, 1st Round conditional 2017
In- Dwight Howard, Chris Duhon, and Earl Clark
Why this version of the trade never came through the rumor mill we’ll never know, most likely a result of how fast things progressed in the deal. But this was, and by far, the most ideal trade scenario which the Lakers could acquire Howard. They somehow kept one of their coveted 7-footers in the mega-deal and chose wisely to make it Gasol, an easy and natural fit alongside Howard. By not putting Gasol on the trade-block showed that Lakers brass is sticking to its formula, to the dual-7-footer mindset that has made their team a championship contender for the past four seasons. The tandem however requires the right personnel, and Gasol’s unique skill set and versatility has been vital the Lakers success.
Almost as important as holding onto Gasol and acquiring Howard, was who the Lakers did not acquire. Specifically Hedo Turkoglu from the Magic. It was widely believed that the Magic would use this deal as an opportunity to move the burden –of-a-contract that is Turkoglu. It’s a smart attempt by the newly appointed Magic front-office, but a smarter move by the veteran Lakers management in avoiding taking on Turkoglu’s contract in an already loaded payroll.
The dynamics of both keeping Gasol, and dodging Turkoglu already make this trade a victory Jim Buss, Mitch Kupchak and company can deservedly celebrate. Add that to the supplementing of Howard with assets like back-up point guard Chris Duhon and tweener small-forward Earl Clark, and the Lakers conference room must have felt similar to this after the trade went down.
Trade Grade: A+
Out – Andre Iguodala, Mo Harkless, Nikola Vucevic, Future conditional 1st round pick
In – Andrew Bynum, Jason Richardson
The Sixers have famously been shopping Iguodala around in trade talks for some time now and have been waiting for the right situation with the right pieces. This was the perfect circumstance for them. The team’s front office was reluctant to extend Iggy, always regarded as a ‘borderline’ franchise player, and their patience was rewarded with the acquistion of Bynum. Bynum gives the Sixers what Head Coach Doug Collins has sorely been missing, in an otherwise revitalized franchise, and that’s a legitimate half-court scoring threat. One of the bigger downfalls of the Sixers in the past two seasons is their lack of a go-to scorer or play maker in the final seconds of a botched play.
Their youth and athleticism allowed them to be among the League’s best in an up-tempo style, but the Sixers had become too dependent on fast-breaks for offense. Bynum will now allow the Sixers to play at two speeds, and will complement Spencer Hawes’ skill set perfectly.
This wasn’t done, however, without several leaps of faith that Sixer management made in acquiring Bynum and Richardson. The first is the risk of Bynum’s well-chronicled injury past, becoming present. Last season was the first of four that the 7-footer played a full, healthy season, and the Sixers hope his trip to Germany in September for a knee procedure (yes, the one Kobe did) is a successful one. The second risk made by Sixer brass was, when coupled with the loss of Lou Williams, is trading Iggy and adding a ton of pressure on Evan Turner and Jru Holliday to create plays on the perimeter. The young guards have shown definite strides and were key contributors to what was one of the East’s best regular season teams last year. But now with an inside force that demands attention, the young guards won’t be as heavily relied upon for every possession and can just dump it into Bynum.
There hasn’t been any indication that Bynum will re-sign in Philadelphia, but being close to his home in New Jersey and all the new-found touches he’ll get won’t hurt the Sixers chances. By moving Iggy and two young players, the Sixers emerged with Richardson and Bynum, now the best center in the Eastern Conference. More importantly a starving fan base finally has their first, serious, go-to franchise player since the small and fearless one in corn-rows.
Team Grade: B+
Out- Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, 2nd Round pick 2013, 1st Round conditional 2014
In- Andre Iguodala
The Nuggets management deserves a lot of credit for this trade, swinging two players and two draft picks for the 2nd best player in the trade not-named Dwight Howard. After Bynum, Iggy was the next biggest asset, and an aggressive Nuggets brass took advantage. Head Coach George Karl should love his new toy in Iggy, a perfect player-coach pairing. Karl likes his teams to run, run, and run some more; and Iggy is a grey hound that plays multiple positions. Iggy will bring an activity on defense that can make the combo of himself and Ty Lawson one of the peskier defensive back court duos in the League. The Nuggets are at their best when they spread the floor for Lawson to penetrate and find their ready shooters, one of the values of Harrington playing power-forward that Karl enjoyed. But with Iggy’s size and athleticism allowing him to play both the 2 or 3 spot, Danilo Gallinari can now slide to the power-forward and is more than capable of being the ‘stretch four’ and pick-and-pop option.
Iggy is ego-less and he plays hard during every nanosecond, a tenacity preferred, almost required, to play for coach Karl. The Nuggets acquired themselves a player meant to play in the altitude ofthe Mile High city, and only improved their team in every way.
Trade Grade: B
Out- Dwight Howard, Chris Duhon, Earl Clark, Jason Richardson
In- Arron Afflallo, Al Harrington, Mo Harkless, Nikola Vucevic, Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga, 2nd Round pick 2013, 1st Round conditional, 1st Round conditional pick 2014, 1st Round conditional 2017, 2nd Round conditional 2015
There aren’t the right words to describe how shocked I was by the Magic’s end in this deal. I felt sad for them. Like I witnessed a puppy being mauled by a full-grown Rottweiller or something. The Magic failed to acquire the immediate help they were looking for and desperately needed. With a Rookie GM, Rookie Head Coach, and a practically brand new state-of-the-art arena, I have to believe the Magic front office has a plan, and it smells a bit like rebuilding.
Some of the players they’ve acquired are nice, young role-players. They also have five extra Draft picks in the next five years. But Bynum and Iguodala represented the 2nd and 3rd best players exchanged in the trade, and both ultimately landed somewhere other than Orlando. Who are Magic fans going to pay to watch? They must be rebuilding. Yet the Magic’s haul of players pales in comparison to what the Nuggets received for Carmelo Anthony 1.5 years ago when he held the franchise hostage.
With no track record to follow and some questioning his credentials, it will be interesting to see what 30-year old GM Rob Hennigan will do to reinvigorate the city. For now though things might not be so magical. The young GM is said to be attempting to follow the blueprint of Sam Presti, GM of the Thunder and his former boss, by compiling valuable draft picks, taking time and patience to grow and nurture a winning culture.
First time Head Coach Jacque Vaughn will no doubt bear some of that responsibility, and take control of a roster comprised of many different spare parts. Amway Arena will struggle to sell season tickets, an arena built for a star or three to call home every home game. I hope that Hennigan is the right guy to do the right things, and will restore order and relativity to a Magic team in transition. This is a bold, new start of a new era for the Magic and it could be painful. They can only go forward from here.
Trade Grade: D