Everybody knew Dwight Howard was going to be traded; no one knew the Orlando Magic would receive so little in return. When reports surfaced Thursday that trade talks had rekindled between the Magic and Lakers -- with two additional teams, the Nuggets and 76ers, joining in -- I wasn't surprised. After it was announced that Howard was going to be a no-show at his own summer basketball camp for kids in Orlando, I thought it had to be the last straw for an organization that needed to stand up for itself and its fans. I also assumed Orlando would get somebody talented in return and Thursday's initial rumors had Pau Gasol, the Spanish power-forward who never has seemed happy in Los Angeles, going to Orlando with a nice role player (Aaron Afflalo) and a healthy serving of first-round picks also in the deal.
Instead, the Orlando Magic have received Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Afflalo and three first round picks for Dwight Howard. While the Lakers became championship favorites and the Nuggets (receiving Andre Iguodala) and the 76ers (receiving Lakers' center, Andrew Bynum) improved intelligently, the Orlando Magic have become one of the worst teams in the NBA -- not exactly the kind of development your fans are going to be happy with.
Reportedly, it is the Magic that were not interested in Pau Gasol -- the Lakers were willing to deal their power forward to get Dwight Howard. The Magic may not have liked Gasol and his contract -- 2 years and around 38 million dollars remain -- but there are plenty of teams that would have gladly traded for Gasol and given the Magic another young player and an early first round pick. Why the Magic decided, instead, to go with Al Harrington and Nikola Vucevic is anyone's guess -- it has panic written all over it (unless they believe Vucevic will be the second-coming of Howard in Orlando at a twentieth of the cost). The Orlando Magic had been bullied enough by a young man who was no "Superman" after all and the franchise wanted to be done with the Dwight Howard saga and all its wreckage.
I did anticipate a deal would get done soon after the summer camp announcement, but not this deal. Not when the Magic went from a playoff team with Howard to a bad team with no future and three first round picks from playoff teams they gave an early Christmas present to. It's a very sad day in Orlando, the kind you would want to forget quickly -- the problem for Magic fans is that this one is going to take a long, long time to forget.