Hello and welcome to another edition of “What If” Wednesday. A while back, I discussed two superstar trades in Deron Williams and Carmelo Anthony and how they panned out for each team and talked about the “what ifs.” I decided to do another what if scenario involving another superstar player in Dwight Howard. Dwight Howard was one of the most dominate players during his time with the Orlando Magic. He lead the league in rebounding and block shots for multiple seasons, while winning the Defensive Player of the Year Award three times.
He always took Orlando to the playoffs and even a Finals appearance, but was unable to help the city win a title. When free agency came closer, there was talks of Dwight wanting out. After refusing to sign a multi-year deal with the team, Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan pulled the trigger on a blockbuster deal that sent the starting center to Los Angeles. It was not an easy trade, as two other teams, the Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers, had to get in the mix. Many players and draft picks were moved in this so lets break down each player involved and how it has turned out for them four years later.
Denver Nuggets received:
- Andre Iguodala (from the 76ers): Igoudala was coming off an All-Star season in 2012 before being dealt to Denver. He started and played in 80 games for the Nuggets averaging 13.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game. He ended up facing the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the 2013 playoffs. Despite having a great series (18 points, 8 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2 steals per game) the Nuggets were knocked out of the first round in six games. He left the team after one year and has been playing a nice role with the Warriors, most recently winning the Finals MVP in 2015.
Philadelphia 76ers received:
- Andrew Bynum (from the Lakers): Bynum at times struggled with injuries but when healthy, the man was one of the top centers in the league. The 76ers look at him to be the building block to start a new era in Philly but sadly that was never the case. Bynum never ended up playing a single game for Philadelphia after multiple setbacks on his knee problems. After one season he left the Sixers to sign with the Cavaliers, then traded to the Bulls (only to be waived the next day) and finished out the season with the Pacers but again knee troubles forced him out. Will we ever see Bynum in an NBA uniform again?
- Jason Richardson (from the Magic): Everyone remembers Richardson as the high-flying dunk machine in Golden State but in 2012 he slowed down a bit. He managed to play only in 52 games during his three years there because of knee injuries. He signed with the Atlanta Hawks before this season but ultimately retired with more knee troubles.
Orlando Magic received:
- Al Harrington (from the Nuggets): Harrington was a seasoned veteran in the league coming off of a couple of nice seasons with both New York and Denver. He looked to be the nice veteran leader for the team that can still score but sadly that was not the case. He ended up only playing in 10 games averaging 5.1 points in 11.9 minutes per action. He was waived at the end of the season and played one more year in the NBA with the Washington Wizards before ultimately retiring from the league in 2014.
- Arron Afflalo (from the Nuggets): At the time, Afflalo was the main piece the Magic received in the deal. He only spent two seasons in Orlando, but during his time he made a huge impact averaging close to 20 points in one of his seasons there. He was on of the best players on the Magic for those two years but was then dealt back to Denver. Afflalo now starts for the New York Knicks.
- Josh McRoberts (from the Lakers): McRoberts had previous stints in Portland, Los Angeles and Indiana before coming to Orlando. he ended up playing 41 games, starting three, averaging 3.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. He ended being traded to the then Charolette Bobcats where he improved his game. His scrappy style of play landed him a nice contract with the Miami Heat and is currently playing a key role for them.
- Christian Eyenga (from the Lakers): Eyenga was the Cavaliers first round pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. He was traded to the Lakers during the 2011-2012 season and played in only one game with LA. He eventually did not make the Magic’s opening day roster and has bouncing around from the D-League and overseas ever since.
- Nikola Vucevic (from the 76ers): Talk about a steal in this trade. After playing limited minutes with the 76ers Vucevic received a bigger role with the Magic and so far it has worked out well for them. He is a nightly double-double monster and has a nice touch around the basket.
- Maurice Harkless (from the 76ers): Harkless was originally drafted by the 76ers a little over a month before this trade happened. After a promising rookie season, his production dipped a bit and was out of Orlando by the summer of 2015. He currently is with the Portland Trail Blazers and looks to have found his rhythm back playing for Rip City.
- Denver’s 2013 2nd round pick (Romero Osby): Osby was selected 51st overall in the 2013 NBA Draft by the Magic. He however was waived before the start of the season without ever appearing in a game. He currently plays for Maccabi Kiryat Gat of the Israeli Basketball Premier League.
- The lower of Denver’s two 2014 first-round picks (Dario Saric -> Elfrid Payton): Since Denver had two first round picks in 2014 the deal was that the Magic get the lower of the two picks. Denver ended up with the 11th pick and Orlando ended up with the 12th pick and used it on Dario Saric. However, he was dealt on draft night to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Elfrid Payton. Payton so far has not been bad for the Magic but he will need to step up now that he has two seasons of experience under his belt. The magic also received the Lakers’ 2017 1st round pick and a future 1st round pick from the 76ers
Los Angeles Lakers received:
- Chris Duhon (from the Magic): Duhon had a succesful career at Duke, winning the national championship in 2001. After decent stints in both Chicago and New York, his production declined, averaging a little more than three points a game in his two years in Orlando. He lasted only a season in LA, averaging only 2.9 points and 2.9 assists before being waived at the end of the 2013 season. He is currently an assistant coach for the Marshall Thundering Heard.
- Earl Clark (from the Magic): Before his time in Los Angeles, Clark was receiving limited playing time. He ended having a nice run in Los Angeles, having career averages in points (7.3), rebounds (5.5) and minutes (23.1). Due to injuries, he started a few games, starting in 36 of the 59 games he played. Since that season, he has bounced around the league then overseas and most recently the D-League. Look for him to make another comeback playing the summer league.
- Dwight Howard (from the Magic): Now lets talk about the main guy in this deal. There was so much potential but nothing seemed to clicked. He complained about not getting the ball as much, he struggled with his shot and had clashes with Kobe Bryant. He did however improve his play at the end of season. Unfortunately, the Lakers ended up getting swept 4-0 to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 playoffs. In his lone season with the purple and gold, he averaged 17.1 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks a game. We all know what happened next with Dwight, he left LA to sign with Houston and is now looking for another big contract this offseason
The “What If?”
You still with me? Good. As you can see there were a lot of pieces moved around in order for this deal to work. Let’s go over the what if factor with every team if they did not pull this trade.
Let’s start with the easy one in Denver. The Nuggets just started the post-Carmelo Anthony era so they needed to find talent anyway they could. Al Harrington as stated earlier was coming off of a good year so he would have been looked at as a great veteran locker room presence for a young team. Arron Afflalo would still be in Denver today and gradually improving on his game, looking like a top scoring option. With draft picks, it gets tough since you are not sure what direction the team was going. Say Denver kept the 51st pick in that 2013 draft and the order stayed the same Romero Osby could of been an option. There was also some other players available (*cough cough* Seth Curry). For the 2014 draft picks, Denver would keep both if they never traded. Having back to back picks is interesting and maybe they would of pick Dario Saric with the 12th pick or even traded it anyway.
Now onto Philadelphia. Andre Igoudala was the star of that team but was traded to start a new future in Bynum. If Bynum was never acquired, Iggy, Harkless and Vucevic could of been a nice trio to build around and they would been in a better situation now then they are currently.
Now down to the main teams involved. Let’s start with Orlando. Guys like Chris Duhon and Earl Clark were not in the haul haul with the team so I do not think they would of been on the team for long. With Dwight Howard however, things were different. He constantly was saying that he wanted to leave so I think Howard would have eventually left in free agency and the Magic would get nothing in return. In my opinion, things could have been a lot of worse with Magic as they would have to start from square one and trying to find player that would fit there team.
With LA, they had a good group in Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andre Bynum. Despite the injuries, Bynum was growing with the Lakers and if they trade never happen he could of penitentially still be with the Lakers and there would of been no chemistry issues with them.
So who won the deal?
To this day the team that won the deal is still in question. I think that the Magic won the deal at the end of the day. Despite never making the playoffs since Dwight Howard left, they have nice option at center with Vucevic. He looks to be the Magic starting center for a couple of seasons. The Lakers ended up not being the superstar team that everyone hoped for. Chemistry issues ruined the potential that team had in 2012 and some say that with Howard going to the Lakers, it ruined his career. I still think Dwight Howard is a great player but clearly his time in LA was not a great one.
So what do you guys think? Who won the deal? What do you guys think would of happened if the deal never went through? Lets us know on Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_)