Ok, it’s not even the middle of January yet, but looking back at the four-team super trade of the offseason, we are able to get a good idea about where each of these teams stands. These teams of course, are the Orlando Magic (Arron Afflalo, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless, Al Harrington, $20 million cap space, three protected first round picks), the Los Angeles Lakers (Dwight Howard), Philadelphia 76ers (Andrew Bynum) and the Denver Nuggets (Andre Iguodala).
Orlando Magic –
With the headache that Howard gave them, they had no choice but to make a move. While there were offers on the table that may have looked better on paper (Nets), the Magic were able to get back Afflalo, Harkless, Vucevic and Harrington. While the trade doesn’t seem like a fair exchange on paper and it surely didn’t give the Magic a head start on the rebuilding phase, the inclusion of Afflalo was big. After starting off a respectable 12-13, the Magic have found themselves losers of 10 straight games.
The Magic have no regrets of not taking a chance on building around Bynum, but the self-explosion of their roster is on them. They have many role players that they will continue to look to trade for picks. It’ll be a few years until a winning team returns to Orlando.
Los Angeles Lakers -
It’s still unfair to name the Lakers losers in this trade. Out of all the teams, I still feel they are the ones who will benefit the most from the deal — that is if Howard decides to re-sign. Right now, they are a complete mess. It started with the firing of Coach Mike Brown after a 0-4 start, then injuries to Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and now Howard. Even when healthy, the team doesn’t play defense under Coach Mike D’Antoni. Nash and a healthy Steve Blake still make up the worst defensive guard duo in the league.
The Lakers are currently losers of six straight games and are six games under .500. They echo Kobe Bryant’s words of being old and slow. The realization of them not making the playoffs is becoming clearer and clearer each day. Along with their chances of postseason play diminishing, the chances of Howard not signing are becoming more realistic as well.
Philadelphia 76ers -
The 76ers had a surprise year last season, but what they were lacking was that one true star. Yes Iguodala was a great player for the Sixers, but they needed that true superstar. They decided to take a risk with Bynum. Yes they knew of his injury past. Yes they knew it was minimum risk – high reward. Yes they also knew that Bynum is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. Despite him not playing in a single game yet for Philadelphia, it was a risk that was worth taking.
The Sixers couldn’t count on Iggy to create shots for them and while Bynum will see plenty of double teams down low, he’s the player they had to go for. But will Bynum re-sign with the Sixers? My initial guess is no. Bynum is only 25 and is coming off a career year. The injuries seemed to pop up more after the deal. Bynum still has plenty of basketball left even if his career gets cut short due to the injuries.
Denver Nuggets –
Finally the reason you are all here. Iguodala hasn’t been bad at all for the Nuggets. But the team has taken a step back since the deal. Yes the Nuggets are the only team that is over .500 in the deal, but trading away Afflalo and Harrington made them less effective on the offensive end. Denver is still averaging over 100 points per game, but with their current roster, they still aren’t a serious title contender.
They are lacking a true inside presence, but more importantly their shooters aren’t knocking down shots from behind the arc. That’s where they miss Afflalo and Harrington the most. Iggy has improved his jumper, but it doesn’t make up for the loss of Afflalo and Harrington. The value of the trade was fair, but Iguodala just makes another player on the Denver roster that can’t create his own shot which causes the fast-paced offense to slow down. Iguodala can opt out at the end of the season, but I don’t see that happening. Denver won’t win with this roster, but with a few moves, they can move forward from the step they took back.