On Thursday, August 9, the Los Angeles Lakers traded for Dwight Howard in a four-team deal involving the Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Orlando Magic. ESPN.com reported that the 76ers received Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson while the Nuggets got Andre Iguodala in the trade. The Magic acquired Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic and three first-round draft picks.
I was never in favor of the Lakers trading Bynum in hopes of getting Howard. I didn't see the point of trading one malcontent for another, especially when other players likely would have been involved. The Magic made no secret of their need to dump salary in a Howard trade, and that would have meant weighing the Lakers' payroll down even more than it already was. However, that's not what happened with this deal.
I'm not sure how Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak pulled it off, but he managed to avoid trading anyone else but Bynum. He also found a way to avoid taking on the Magic's worst contracts. Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears reported that the Lakers will also get Earl Clark and Chris Duhon, but that's nothing compared to the bad contracts that Orlando originally wanted them to take.
Now the Lakers have a starting lineup featuring Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard. Did anyone ever think this would happen? More importantly, how did they make this trade without losing anything more than Bynum and some draft picks?
The Lakers made the perfect deal. I would have been against almost any trade for Howard, but Kupchak found a way to minimize the team's losses. That's what made the deal worth it for me. No one thought they'd be able to keep Pau Gasol when trade rumors were first reported on Thursday morning. Twelve hours later, Gasol is still a Laker. Who would have thought that possible?
I'm not ready to call the Lakers title favorites quite yet, especially with the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder returning most of their rosters next season. But I think it's safe to say that the Lakers are back, and they did it without giving up one player that was in their plans for next season.
Derek Ciapala has been a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers since childhood. His favorite Lakers' moment is when they beat the Detroit Pistons 108-105 in Game 7 of the 1988 NBA Finals. You can follow him on Twitter @dciapala or on Facebook.