Dwight Howard headed to Hollywood

Dwight Howard’s look as a Laker

ESPN’s Marc Stein confirms that Dwight Howard is heading to Los Angeles.

Late Thursday night, news broke that Howard will become a Laker by way of a four-team trade involving the Lakers, Magic, Nuggets and 76ers. The main stipulations are as follows: obviously the Lakers receive Dwight Howard, Denver gets Andre Igoudala, Philadelphia obtains the services of Jason Richardson and Andrew Bynum, and finally, Orlando acquires Al Harrington, Aaron Afflalo, Nikola Vucevic and a protected future first-round pick from the other three teams (Lakers, 76ers, and Nuggets) involved.

A trade call has been scheduled Friday with the NBA league office to assure that deal goes official, according to Marc Stein and ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Ramona Shelburne.

Ironically enough, the Lakers managed to keep Pau Gasol on their active roster. His name repeatedly floated in and out of trade talks, and initial reports penciled his destination in Orlando.

On the other hand, the Lakers agreed to move Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia. The 76ers are willing to gamble with the possibility of Bynum opting out of his contract after the coming season. Bynum grew up approximately one hour outside of Philly in Plainsboro, New Jersey.

Throughout the offseason Bynum has maintained that he wouldn’t sign an extension with any team but the Lakers. Returning close to home may help sway his decision, but Bynum now has the option of signing a three-year, $60 million extension with the 76ers, or become a free agent and potentially ink a max, five-year deal worth $102 million.

The Howard saga has been an ongoing issue since last season when he wavered between desires of staying in Orland and requests of being traded. In recent weeks Howard steadily expressed that if he wasn’t traded he would test free agency.

Los Angeles has a potential dilemma similar to the Bynum situation in Philly. The Lakers have no assurance that Howard will agree to a new deal after this season, but have expressed beliefs that he (Howard) will stay upon experiencing a championship culture.

Although all parties involved agreed to the conditions, the deal won’t become official until the league office verifies. So, barring another intervention by Commissioner David Stern, the Dwight Howard episode will end with him sporting the Laker’s purple and gold next season alongside Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Pau Gasol.

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Robert Griffin III and Redskins agree on deal

Robert Griffin III

Robert Griffin III (RG3) signed a four-year deal, with a fifth year organization option, worth $21,119,098 early Wednesday morning with the Washington Redskins, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network.

Shortly after signing his deal Griffin made the announcement by tweeting: “Well people….It’s Time to go to Work!!! Off the unemployment line and oh yea HTTR!!!”

HTTR abbreviates “Hail to the Redskins,” a key phrase from the team’s fight song.

For the first time in NFL History, especially for a rookie, 100% of the contract is guaranteed. Yes, 100% percent of the promised salary is guaranteed, which could possibly make RG3 a pioneer for the structure of upcoming rookie contracts.

Griffin’s potential is largely responsible for that guarantee.  After all, the Redskins traded their next three upcoming first round picks and a second round pick to the St. Louis Rams in order to move up and obtain Griffin’s Draft rights as the second overall pick.

While in college at Baylor University RG3 obliterated many school records before declaring for the draft as a redshirt junior.

“Griffin, one of the most accomplished dual-threat quarterbacks in NCAA history, set or tied 54 school records in just 41 games at Baylor before declaring for the draft,” according to ESPN and Associated Press sources. “Griffin was Baylor’s career passing leader, completing 800 of 1,192 passes (67 percent) for 10,366 yards, with 78 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. His 2,254 yards and 33 TDs rushing are records for a (Baylor) Bears quarterback.”

Coach Mike Shanahan has clearly stated that RG3 will be starting for the Redskins this season, although he has missed the first two days of rookie training camp. As for his draft counterpart, Andrew Luck remains unsigned with the Indianapolis Colts.

Star running backs ink new deals

Ray Rice

Ray Rice and Matt Forte, two of the NFL’s most productive running backs, signed new contracts with their respective teams, the Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears.

Rice’s extension, a 5yr/$40M deal, which includes a first year salary of $17M for the 2012-13 season and another $8M the following season, is structured to be loaded heavily on the front end.  Forte’s deal, on the other hand, is a 4yr/$32M contract which guarantees a minimum of $17M.

The Ravens and Bears both placed franchise tags on their star running backs to secure their services for the upcoming season. Without contract extensions Rice and Forte would have garnered around $7.7M, as guaranteed by franchise tag tender.

Matt Forte

More controversy surrounded Forte’s extension than Rice’s. Bandwagongers petitioning for Forte’s extension often followed his name with “pay him please,” as was notably heard by analysts on ESPN’s Sport Center.

Last Season Rice led the NFL accruing 2,068 yards from scrimmage, 1,368 of those were rushing yards. He also set a Ravens franchise record of 15 touchdowns.

The Chicago Bear’s offense wouldn’t exist without Matt Forte. Last Season he produced 997 rushing yards on 4.9 yards per carry, a total limited by a four game absence from a sprained right medial collateral ligament (MCL). Overall he totaled 1,487 yards from scrimmage.

It’s refreshing to see these two deals completed. Player holdouts have plagued professional sports in recent years. Now both players can return their focus to training camp and the upcoming regular season set to kick off in early September.

Louis Williams Returning to Georgia

Louis Williams

Louis “Lou” Williams and the Atlanta Hawks have agreed to a multiyear contract, according to reports.

Last season Lou Williams averaged a shade less than 15 points and 3.5 assists while primarily coming off the bench for the Philadelphia 76ers, which led to Williams finishing runner up for the Sixth Man of the Year award.

Williams, a Georgia native, was drafted in 2005 as standout high school athlete in Gwinnett County. As a member of South Gwinnett High School, Williams averaged 27.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game.

Many believed Williams should have been starting last season, and he will probably get that opportunity while playing for the Hawks, who traded former starting guard Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets earlier this offseason. Williams has the skill set to play both point guard and shooting guard and should add some much needed flexibility to the hawks rotation.