Friday, August 10, 2012

Why the Magic Won the Dwight Howard Deal

If you think the Magic got hosed in the DH12 trade, I have one simple question for you:

What were you expecting?

If you hate the Lakers as much as I do, this trade is quite the downer for the next 2 years (although, really, is Howard that much better than Bynum?), but the notion that the Magic gave up a dollar piece and a quarter and only got two dimes, two nickels, and three pennies in return is absurd.

Granted, Orlando was never going to get full, immediate value for a prima donna with back problems. The best thing they could do was build for the future – a concept that’s simultaneously mocked and praised in the MLB (see: Astros, Houston), but, for reasons unbeknownst to me, is viewed as sacrilege in the NBA.

Assuming the Magic were left with no choice but to get rid of Dwight Howard or suffer The Decision 2.0 next summer, how much would they have needed to get in return to actually compete with the Heat, Bulls, 76ers, and Pacers in the Eastern Conference in 2012-13?

Here’s a math problem for you: Jameer Nelson + JJ Redick + Jason Richardson + Hedo Turkoglu + X makes the Magic better than any of those aforementioned Eastern Conference teams at any point in the next Y years. Solve for X and Y.

Even if there exists a mystery package that could perfectly replace the void left by both Howard and Ryan Anderson, they’re still finishing in the bottom half of the EC playoff race, right? In that equation, if 0 <= Y < 3, then X is undefined, or at the very least an irrational “number”; so why not punt a couple of seasons and shift the focus a few years out?

With 2015 as the goal, how can you not love this trade for the Magic? If still with Orlando 3 years from now, Jason Richardson would be in a walker, and Dwight Howard would literally be leaving an angry pile of shit at center court on a nightly basis.

On the other hand, Aaron Afflalo should still be a very serviceable 30 year old shooting guard in a league with a severe lack of quality shooting guards [In points per 48 minutes, Jordan Crawford was the 4th highest scoring SG in the NBA this past season, yet, using June’s draft as a barometer, was the piece the 20-46 Wizards most needed to upgrade this off-season.]; some combination of Vucevic/Nicholson/O’Quinn should evolve into a center at least as good as a Spencer Hawes; and Moe Harkless should have made the necessary adjustments to produce at the level of a Rudy Gay, if not better. Perhaps you’d rather have “wills” than “shoulds” if you’re giving up the (sour puss) face of your franchise, but “shoulds” are better than the “whoops” that Cleveland got in 2010.

(If you don’t believe me on Harkless, go watch any St. John’s game from last season. Royce White ended up being the projected late-first round pick that everyone fell in love with, but I have little doubt that Harkless will end up being one of the five best guys to come out of this draft. His expected learning curve to play in the NBA is the only reason he wasn’t a lottery pick. Had he stayed in college for his sophomore year, he would have been a top 3 pick in the 2013 Draft.)

So, keep your chin up, Magic fan base. The future is bright, and the never-ending Howard drama is another team’s headache now. And speaking from last year’s experience with the Wizards, there are worse things than watching a team with no hope until a few years down the road.


  1. Here is the angle (and the only angle) where I see the Magic benefitting from this deal. They got such a lousy haul in return for Howard they will be high % lottery for 2013 and likely 2014 if they play their cards right. Judging from the new GM Henigan, that's not the best assuption unless you go off of his background at San Antonio/OKC (which if you're a Magic fan then that is all you are banking on). This is where the Cleveland "Whoops" actually worked out considering Kyrie just got ROY. Looking at 2013 and 2014 draft class Orlando will have the opportunity to grab a Kentucky one-and-doner like Noel (at 6'11") or if they want a wing player they could go with Poythress (6'7") or Shabazz Muhammed at UCLA. But let's be honest 2014 will be the year of Jabari Parker and if they can grab him and Noel or Zeller in 2013 that's all you can ask for right? You might be saying "those picks in the trade are protected picks", yes but their actual selection will be in the lottery for the next two years and they can also package those picks a la Houston Rockets. Speaking of the Rockets, what happened? And the Nets? As the Sports Guy mentioned, both had better offers for Orlando, but Orlando played it's hand wrong. So chin up Magic fan! 2017 playoffs race is waiting for you!

    1. Can't really argue with you. As has been well documented in every professional sports league, you're much better off completely bottoming out for a few years (Tampa Bay Rays, Detroit Lions, even the Washington Wizards are already light years ahead of where they were 2-3 years ago) than you are fighting for that last playoff spot and ultimately screwing yourself out of draft position. How many straight years have the Houston Rockets just missed the playoffs and ended up drafting 14th in the first round? Or why do the Bills insist on repeatedly going 6-10 and playing their way out of a top 7 pick, when we all know they would never go anywhere if they snuck into the playoffs anyway? And how much closer are either of those teams to the playoffs than they were a few years ago?

      That's what I'm saying with the "math problem." Unless David KAAAAAHHHHHHNNNNNN was about to give up Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, and Derrick Williams for a 1 year rental of Dwight Howard, here's no way you're going to beat any of those 4 teams in a 7 game series, so why not give your 2012-2014 season ticket holders the finger and just play for 3 years from now?

  2. Can't disagree with the idea that the Magic made this trade to get themselves into the position to win the draft lottery (or at the very least be picking in the top 5) for the next few years and rebuild the franchise like that, because we all know the worst thing in the NBA is the "mediocrity treadmill" (ask the Atlanta Hawks about that). But if you're building for the future and trading with teams like Philly and Denver (who have a lot of promising young assets), why not demand that you get at least some mix of these players when you're giving up the NBA's best center:

    Kenneth Faried

    Wilson Chandler

    Ty Lawson


    Lavoy Allen

    Arnett Moultrie

    Thaddeus Young

    They got Harkless, Afflalo, and Vucevic (all players who can either help now or have a lot of potential to help down the road), but I think they could have gotten better young players in this deal. That's my biggest problem with the trade, it certainly seems like they left a lot on the table. Now maybe those of us who think the Magic didn't get enough for Howard are looking at this deal through James Dolan's glasses and what the Nuggets got for Melo a few seasons ago. It certainly seems like Denver found a sucker willing to overpay and the Magic couldn't find that team or teams to do the same. Either way though, it's clear (as Kerry pointed out) that there wouldn't be a package of players that makes the Magic an instant contender, so building for the future is the clear way to go. It just seems like they had the right idea but didn't execute it as well as they could have.

    1. Lost in all of this: what do the Nuggets know about Andre Iguodala that we don't? I know Harrington's on the wrong side of 30, but giving him, Afflalo, and a 2014 first round pick up for a 28 year old undersized small forward who's PPG has steadily dropped for 5 consecutive seasons? Seems a little bizarre. A 7 man rotation of Lawson/Miller/Iguodala/Gallinari/Faried/McGee/Mozgov ain't half bad, but still.