Welp, the Dwightmare is over, and the knee-jerk reactions are—hopefully by now—over, but that doesn’t mean I can’t show you some of the reactions around the web. They’re interesting and also pretty unanimous: Orlando screwed the pooch (as my grandfather would say) and got poor Aaron Afflalo and Al “[Enter your favorite TMNT]” Harrington from Denver, Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless from Philly and shitty, 1st round lottery-protected, picks (two of which the Magic won’t get until the 2015 and 2017 season) for the best center in basketball. If you’re a Lakers fan, you’re ecstatic; if you’re like 97% of the world’s NBA fan population, you’re gasping for breath as it slowly dawns on you Kobe Bryant could very well win his 6th championship next year. Say a silent prayer to the NBA Gods.
But what did real, like, NBA writers think about this trade? What did the national pundits and bloggers and NBA Illuminati believe transpired last night as Wojo and Steiny Mo breathlessly updated their twitter feeds and CMS fields with Dwight rumors and reactions? Keep in mind, this is gonna be a very long post, and I don’t use the read more button because you can’t include pictures with it. I’m stubborn about including pictures because Tumblr is a picture-heavy medium. So buckle up, and get ready to do a lot of reading about what the Dwight trade means for the team’s involved and the NBA as a whole.
-The first guy I read about this deal was the estimable Kelly Dwyer at BDL. He did not hold back in his assessment of Howard and his hemming and hawing (in)decision the last two years in Orlando. After laying out the terms of the deal and how it effects the rosters of the Magic, Sixers and Nuggets, Kerby had his say about Howard:
"From there, with all those middle class pretenders sadly filed away, we turn to the idea of Dwight Howard as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. And how this will challenge your appreciation of this league.
Because he’s a phony, you know.
He lied to all of you about “loyalty,” last March. Lied. To. You. Looked in the camera and lied to you, whether you live in either Florida or California’s Orange County, or you’re reading this site from a time zone that has you up at four in the morning. Dwight Howard lied to you on record and in writing, whether you’re a fan of the Magic or not, about what he really wanted. He lied to his teammates, he lied to his front office, he lied to the press that had to show up to talk to him in March, and he lied to the children that he couldn’t muster up the courage to face at a camp their parents paid money for them to attend.”
That wasn’t the end, either.
"Overwrought, this? No. For one last time, revisit the nonsense that he’s created. Say goodbye to it, as he’s off to El Lay, but don’t forgive it.
He is a spoiled, immature, brat. And for all the condemnation that LeBron James endured from 2009-11 for his work before and following The Decision, or criticism Kobe Bryant took in during his trade demand waffling in 2007, or criticism any number of NBA stars have received following their destruction of a coach or teammate’s career or franchise’s decade — Howard has been worse. You’re not reading some in-the-moment hack that forgets that sporting life existed before 2012. It’s this bad. Dwight Howard should be ashamed of himself, and yet he’s about to receive the greatest reward in his profession.
And now we have to deal with the fact that a person that should be the league’s most-loathed player is on a team featuring giants of basketball spirit like Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Pau Gasol.”
-Then I turned to SB Nation’s Tom Ziller. Ziller, also wrote about the terms of the trade, and had the identical reaction I did. Then he went over what the Magic didn’t get in return for the best big man in the NBA:
"UGH. [ed. this was my reaction as well]
The Magic took the extraordinary step of lighting it all on fire to become really bad — a time-honored NBA tradition — so that they can again become really good. The only problem is this: the teams that usually try to get really bad in order to get really good pick up some real young assets to help out on the upswing. Harkless was the No. 15 pick in June’s draft. Vucevic went No. 16 in the awful 2011 draft. None of the picks the Magic receive will be worth a whole lot unless GM Rob Hennigan hits home runs. Afflalo is a nice player who is nothing close to a star, and is paid pretty well. (He’s due about $30 million over the next four years.) Harrington is a player who’d be just fine on a contending team that needs a stretch four in spot minutes.”
"Ugh" is right. Ziller’s advice for future team’s (I’m looking at Dell Demps and New Orleans’ young roster) and their purported superstars: "trade your babies young." I’ll say. Howard’s vacillations have been 10x more annoying than anything LeBron did or said in the summer of 2010, and teams would be wise to deal or lock up their superstars so this doesn’t happen to them as well.
-Next we have Trey Kerby at TBJ had a nice bullet-pointed list of reactions to the deal, including this gem mid-way down:
"Does this mean the Magic preferred Arron Afflalo to Brook Lopez or Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol? Have they seen all of those players playing basketball?"
That’s rhetorical, just so you know.
-But what about the other teams—aside from Orlando—that were involved in the deal? Kurt Helin at PBT explains why Denver, Philly and Iguodala all won in this trade:
"It’s a win for Iggy and Denver because he is a better fit with George Karl’s more open, up-tempo offense than he has been in Philly — Denver will use him in a way more like Team USA is using him in London. Denver played at the second fastest pace in the league last year and Iggy can finish at the rim. They move the ball and he will get good looks. Denver’s already good offense (third in the league in points per possession last season) gets a little better.
More importantly, he will dramatically improve what was the NBA’s 20th ranked defense last season, filling the Nuggets big need as an elite perimeter defender. (They need better defense from JaVale McGee, too, but that’s another story.)
As it was for Philadelphia — Kwame Brown isn’t their starting center any more.
The up-and-coming Sixers now have the best center in the East — Andrew Bynum is an All-Star who is just coming into his own. He provides a real matchup challenge for Miami. Put him in a starting five with Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young (who has earned the extra minutes) and maybe Spencer Hawesand you have a good team. And the core of that team is all under 25 — they will grow over the next couple years.
They now are maybe the third or fourth best in the East — Miami is the team to beat, but the Celtics, Pacers and now maybe Sixers are on that next tier. A Holiday-Bynum pick-and-roll is going to do be hard to stop. And Doug Collins has gotten this team to play hard and play defense.”
So, in case you’re not keeping score, Philly, Denver and most importantly LA have all improved, but Orlando has gotten significantly worse. What’s that? The new CBA was supposed to fix all this? Nope.
-Matt Moore, also at PBT, used the Howard deal to talk about the NBA’s Arm’s Race, complete with a pitch-perfect Martin Amis quote to kick it off: “Weapons are like money, no one knows the meaning of enough.” That’s a pretty astute assessment of what’s happening the league right now with team after team on the population-rich coasts loading up on superstars; it’s like the Cold War, but with not just the US and Russia, but also China, Spain and the entire Middle East involved. Here’s what Matt wrote to start the piece:
In 2008, it was the Celtics getting both an aging Kevin Garnett and an aging Ray Allen. Then it was the Lakers getting Pau Gasol, commonly a sub-star due to his market at the time. Then came The Decision, Melodrama, the Joe Johnson trade, Deron’s choice, and Steve Nash becoming a Laker.
And now, this. Dwight Howard will be a Laker. The Lakers will start Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard.
This arms race has gone too far.
Maybe it was always too far. Maybe the Decision really was the worst thing that could ever have happened to the sport, maybe it was the Celtics that started all this and it was unavoidable thereafter. Maybe it was New York’s opulence and brazen assault on the cap that lead to this. But either way, here we are. It was always going to be like this, from the moment Howard made his list of teams he wanted to play for, following Carmelo Anthony‘s model of electing where he wanted and then maneuvering to get it. He was going to go to a big-market team with talent.
But this much talent?
I think it is, but what can anybody do about it?
-Lastly, I saw a bunch of articles/posts on the Lakers as the new NBA juggernaut. It’s true, they are. With Dwight at the 5, Pau at the 4 (how did they keep Pau!), Metta W____ P____ or [insert player of your choice] at the 3, Kobe at the 2 and Steve Nash running point, there isn’t a better starting 5 on the planet right now and that includes the Miami Heat.
I’m pretty sure there are NBA fans, outside of LA residents, who are going through the same set of emotions Martin Riggs faced at the beginning of Leathal Weapon.
If I didn’t have to get a load of work done today, I’d just go back to bed. This has not been a fun morning; except, of course, for Lakers fans.
[Pics: Via & Via]