Did Orlando blow Dwight Howard trade? Too early to tell.
With the Lakers, we’re going to know very quickly how this blockbuster four-team Dwight Howard trade worked — they are in win-now mode and with Dwight Howard it is possible for them.
With the Sixers, we’ll know in a few years — Andrew Bynum gives them a true center (on several levels) for their young core, a group that could grow together into something special.
With the Magic it is going to take even longer to judge this trade properly — it is far too early to judge this trade for them. We can’t until we see who they draft.
A lot of people are ripping the Magic today, but to me that is short sighted. If your reaction is “they would have been better with Brook Lopez and the Nets deal” I would counter that nobody is better with Brook Lopez on a max deal. The Nets can absorb that (and the Kris Humphries deal, another guy rumored for Orlando) in a way the Magic cannot. The Nets picks would be no better than the ones they’re getting. Yes, there also were scenarios where Orlando could get Andrew Bynum in three team deals, but those were never that solid and there are questions about whether Orlando kept Bynum past this season when he became a free agent (and Dallas would be out there with cap space).
What the Magic wanted to do in this deal was get young players, a lot of picks, future cap space and rebuild from the ground up. That’s not sexy and easy to sell, but it’s the smart thing to do. Brook Lopez you can sell a little but he kills a rebuilding effort — he’s a huge contract for a nice center. And they would have had to take on Kris Humphries as well, another bloated contract. This deal gets them to their goal of picks and a lot of future cap space.
If you want to argue they could have done better at the trade deadline last year rather than hold on to Howard... maybe. Houston had a good package at the deadline and this summer (more cap space and maybe better picks), but not one dramatically better. In the case of the Nets offer Orlando would have had flexibility with Lopez then (the Houston deal at the deadline might have worked well). But at the time they wanted to try and win Howard over still.
In retrospect that was their mistake — not pulling the trigger back then.
To judge how the deal they did do works out for Orlando, we are going to have to see what they do with the draft picks and how they pan out.
And I don’t mean the picks they get from the other teams in this trade — those will be second half of the draft picks, not that thrilling.
No, the real key is what they do with their own draft picks. Because the Magic just became a bad team on the court. Their own picks are going to be high lottery ones for the next few years — they have Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington (who will be bought out after this season) and not much else (and you can get those guys from them if you offer more picks and young players).
A lot of teams around the NBA have talked about building in the Oklahoma City model, but Rob Hennigan (a former Thunder assistant GM) has them better placed to do it than anyone. Now, the Thunder had and nailed a top four pick for three consecutive years — we’re not sure the picks will be that high for Orlando. We don’t know if they will draft another Kevin Durant (or Dwight Howard), a true franchise anchor.
They might. They might not. But we can’t judge this trade for nearly five years for Orlando to see what they do with those picks. They have wiped the slate clean to rebuild. It sucks to be a Magic fan today. You just traded away a true franchise center. You can see a rocky road the next few years.
But we don’t know yet what is a few years down the road for this team. We have to wait and see. We can’t judge this trade from their perspective yet.