Remember the big fuss when Dwight Howard was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers a little more than a year ago?
Remember how everyone had the Lakers pegged to reach the Finals?
Remember how the other three teams in the deal — the Philadelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets and Orlando Magic — were analyzed at the time?
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The 76ers landed Andrew Bynum. The Nuggets got Andrew Iguodala. The Magic got a bunch of spare parts and protected draft picks.
At the time, there were thousands of theories. None turned out to be reality. Nothing really lived up to the hype.
The Lakers disappointed all season, barely making the playoffs.
Howard was a misfit in LA. Bynum missed the entire season in Philly. And while Iguodala was an important piece to a fantastic season in Denver, he never seemed as if he intended to stay.
Now look at those situations today.
Howard bolted LA for the Houston Rockets. Iguodala split for the Golden State Warriors. Bynum and Earl Clark (who went to the Lakers with Howard) made their way to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
That leaves us with one clear winner in that trade. That would be none other than the Magic. And they win by a basketball landslide.
Magic general manager Rob Hennigan was new to the job when the Howard sweepstakes was at its peak. A lot of folks seemed to think Hennigan was in way over his head. They seemed to think he was overselling the “assets” received in the deal.
Well, those folks should think again.
Hennigan and the Magic acquired center Nikola Vucevic and now second-year forward Maurice Harkless from the Sixers. They plucked veteran guard Arron Afflalo from the Nuggets. They secured one (protected) first-round draft pick in 2017 from each the Sixers and Lakers. They also obtained some second-rounders.
Each of those players (and picks) is still property of the Magic. Vucevic and Harkless are viewed as true up-and-comers. Afflalo is a pro’s pro and good to have in the locker room and on the floor. The Magic possess salary cap space, roster flexibility and Victor Oladipo, the No. 2 overall selection in June’s draft.
All are highly valued when you lose your star and start building a team from scratch.
Moral of this NBA story?
Let’s not be so quick to judge trades. Sometimes, the team that looks like it came in last turns out to be the biggest winner of them all. And today that team is the Magic.
Off the bench
• One Eastern Conference executive told FOX Sports Ohio he’s heard from the Lakers recently, and word around the league is they may try to make a “substantial” trade before the regular season. Apparently, forward Pau Gasol remains far from untouchable.
• Many NBA talent-evaluators feel as if Steve Nash is no longer capable of playing at a high level for more than 15-20 minutes game. The Lakers, it is believed, are on the lookout for a younger point guard who’s a more potent scorer. But as everyone who deals in the trade market will tell you, that won’t be so easy to obtain.
• The Nuggets are another team potentially willing to make moves before the season. While no one from the organization has said so, the Nuggets may have an interest in Sacramento Kings guard Jimmer Fredette or perhaps veteran free agent Richard Hamilton. Either might supply a little scoring punch in reserve.
• Hamilton, most recently of the Chicago Bulls, is among the available vets who could draw interest as the regular season gets close. Former Toronto Raptors guard Sebastian Telfair and Cleveland Cavaliers guard Daniel Gibson are others.
• The Cavs seem to really like both undrafted rookie Matthew Dellavedova and journeyman Jermaine Taylor. Since the Cavs will likely keep at least one big man (and only have two roster spots open), they’ll have a tough decision as both Dellavedova and Taylor are guards.
• One thing you can definitely expect: NBA teams to begin making massive roster cuts within the next week. Plenty of guys will be released, and more than a handful of those will give it another go in another NBA city. Sam Amico’s news and rumors column is posted each Sunday throughout the NBA season. Follow him on Twitter @SamAmicoFSO.