Dwight Howard; Courtesy Jeff Griffith, US Presswire
By Simon Samano, USA TODAY
It took long enough, but it appears our long, national "Dwightmare" is over.
Citing people with direct knowledge of the trade talks, ESPN and other news organizations reported Thursday night that a four-team blockbuster trade that will send Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers is complete, pending NBA approval.
"He's ecstatic ... just incredibly happy to be moving on to the Lakers, moving out of Orlando," ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said of a conversation with Howard. "He's just anxious to put the events of the past behind him. ... His attitude is this is second home to him already (because Howard has spent time in Los Angeles rehabilitating his back).
"One of the things he told me, 'I can assure you I'm happy to be here.' "
The trade is set to go down like this, ESPN reports: The Lakers will receive Howard from the Orlando Magic; the Philadelphia 76ers will receive Lakers center Andrew Bynum and Magic guard Jason Richardson; the Denver Nuggets will receive 76ers guard Andre Iguodala; and the Magic will get Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo and forward Al Harrington, 76ers center Nikola Vucevic and forward Maurice Harkless and one protected future first-round pick from each of the other three teams.
The Lakers have a long history of acquiring elite big men:
•They received Wilt Chamberlain in 1968 from the 76ers for three players who were not better than Chamberlain.
•They got Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (and Walt Wesley) in 1975 from the Milwaukee Bucks for four players who were not better than Abdul-Jabbar.
•They signed Shaquille O'Neal away from the Magic as a free agent in 1996.
•They traded for Pau Gasol in 2008, sending the Memphis Grizzlies three players and two draft picks, none of whom ended up better than Gasol. (Though Marc Gasol, one of the pieces of the trade, is an excellent NBA center in his own right.)
Now Howard joins the list and joins Pau Gasol in the post for the Lakers.
"Lakers did it again, getting a center. ... It's a great deal for the Lakers, obviously," Hall of Famer Chris Mullin said on ESPN. "This catapulted the Lakers next to, if not above, the Oklahoma City Thunder."
The trade still needs to be approved by the league. ESPN Los Angeles reports that a trade call with the league office has been scheduled for Friday.
If approved, this would drastically change the Lakers' starting five from last season to Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash (acquired from the Phoenix Suns last month), Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol and Howard.
Howard skipped his annual camp this week in Orlando while rehabbing in Los Angeles. Campers were given refunds.