ORLANDO (CBSMiami) – The sports world’s long national Dwightmare is over, but it’s just beginning for opponents of the Los Angeles Lakers who took the super team concept started by Boston and Miami to another level Thursday night.
The Orlando Magic have agreed to a multi-team, multi-player trade that will send All-Star center Dwight Howard to the Lakers; the Magic get Arron Affalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless, and three first round picks; the Philadelphia 76ers receive Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson; and the Denver Nuggets receive Andre Iguodoala.
While the Magic have the ability to get younger and build for the future; the 76ers pick up a franchise center; and the Nuggets receive a good player in Iguodala. But make no mistake; the big winners in the deal are the Los Angeles Lakers.
The deal will essentially move the Lakers into the favorite role in the Western Conference and arguably for the NBA championship.
The Lakers starting lineup will be: point guard – Steve Nash; shooting guard – Kobe Bryant; small forward – Metta World Peace; power forward Pau Gasol; and center Dwight Howard. The twin towers of Gasol and Howard will make getting into the lane difficult for every team.
Plus, with teams having to collapse on Howard with double-teams, it will leave Gasol, Peace, or Bryant open to shoot mid-range and three-point shots.
The trade will literally alter the balance of power in the NBA and could put the once overwhelming favorite Miami Heat on notice that the Lakers mean business. However, the Lakers are going to pay a massive amount of luxury tax to get the deal done.
According to CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger, assuming Howard will re-sign with the Lakers after this season, the Lakers’ guaranteed contracts for the first year of the “super (luxury) tax” for 2013-14 will be $92 million for just six players.
Berger said on Twitter, “based on a $75 million (luxury) tax line, Lakers would owe $34.3 million in tax for those six players at $92 million alone. That’s $126 million for half a team.”
Don’t worry about the Lakers being able to pay the bill as the team has arguably the best television contract in the entire league. But it’s clear the Lakers are chasing the Heat who have stockpiled talent as well this offseason.
The Heat already had a deadly lineup with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Shane Battier, and Dwyane Wade. Then team president Pat Riley added Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis for their three-point shooting. The Heat also return NBA Finals hero Mike Miller, Norris Cole, Udonis Haslem, and Mario Chalmers to round out one of the best lineups in the last decade in the NBA.
The bench could be what separates the Heat from the Lakers. L.A. will have a phenomenal starting lineup, but much like the Heat in the first year of the Big Three, don’t have much past that.
The bigger question that will have to be answered is did the lockout before last season accomplish anything? The lockout by the league was supposed to restore competitive balance and prevent teams like the Heat, Celtics, Lakers, and Knicks/Nets stop building super teams and instead encourage players to stay for small-market teams.
However, looking at what the Heat, Celtics and Lakers have done in just the past year make it look like the lockout accomplished nothing more than having the owners take a greater deal of money from the players.
The competitive balance is not there with teams like the Magic, Hawks, Rockets, Cavaliers, Warriors, Kings, Grizzlies, and Bobcats no closer to being able to compete with the sheer amalgamation of talent the large market teams have pulled off.