Dwight Howard traded to Lakers in four-team, 12-player deal

By Tim Reynolds

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Aug. 10 2012 7:41 p.m. MDT

"We think that Andrew is one of the top two NBA centers in the league, so we're thrilled about doing that. And we're sad to lose Andre. He helped us win a lot of games and in the two years that I've been with him."

Philadelphia believes it would have a chance to keep Bynum long-term, noting that he's a native of neighboring New Jersey.

"We've gotten bigger, we've gotten stronger and we've gotten more athletic than we were at this time last year," 76ers president Rod Thorn said. "Andrew is the best center in the East. Anytime you have the best center, it's a real plus. This is still a game that big men are very, very important in."

For the Lakers to get Howard, they needed to give up the All-Star center — Bynum — they've nurtured since he was a 17-year-old draft pick.

After two straight second-round exits from the playoffs, the Lakers tore apart a very good team this summer in an attempt to build a great one — a team that can give Bryant, a five-time NBA champion who turns 34 next week, the chance to match Michael Jordan's six rings next year.

The Lakers already made one splash in this offseason, getting Steve Nash in a trade with Phoenix. So they figured to get better at point guard, and now figure to get better again at center. Owner Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak may have put together a roster that would rival the NBA champion Miami Heat, Western Conference champ Oklahoma City and the rest of the NBA's best.

How good? The Lakers' starting lineup now includes five former All-Stars with three MVP awards and four defensive player-of-the-year awards.

"Unreal!" Bryant wrote.

Denver was thrilled to add an Olympian in Iguodala, who said in turn said he was excited for what's coming next.

"It's not often you get the opportunity to improve your team by adding an All-Star player like Andre Iguodala," Nuggets executive vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri said. "He's an Olympian, a great defender and a great all-around player."

The Magic said they were also getting a second-round draft pick from Denver next year, a first-round pick from either Denver or New York in 2014, a conditional first-round pick from Philadelphia and a conditional second-round pick from the Lakers in 2015, and a conditional first-round pick from the Lakers in 2017. The Magic also will have a $17.8 million trade exception to use over the next year.

Howard averaged 20.6 points and 14.5 rebounds in 54 regular-season games for Orlando last season. In eight seasons with the Magic, he averaged 18.4 points and 13.0 rebounds.

"We want to thank Dwight," Hennigan said. "I heard a story the other day that he was booed on draft night. He turned himself into a pretty good basketball player."

Howard entered last season as the subject of trade rumors, especially since he could have opted out of his deal at season's end and become a free agent. He decided that he would not exercise that option, then found himself in another mess in April when Van Gundy said team officials told him that Howard wanted him fired.

Howard denied it. Ultimately, it didn't matter.

Van Gundy's gone, Smith is gone, and now so is Howard.

He went to Los Angeles for back surgery in April, which might have been fitting. It's been Howard's home base ever since, and now it's where he'll work.

"Sometimes, things don't work out the way everyone hopes, and I think that was the case here," Hennigan said. "We tried to establish a relationship with Dwight that was built on interpersonal exchanges. We always felt like that may evolve in one direction or another."

Turns out, that direction was west.

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