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.