Marc Stein of ESPN.com is reporting the Magic, Nuggets, Lakers and 76ers have agreed in principle on a deal that will send Dwight Howard out of Orlando. He reports sources tell him that a conference call has been scheduled for Friday morning to confirm the trade. Jarrod Rudolph of RealGM also reports that sources are telling him the deal is done and several other outlets have confirmed these reports.
It finally feels like this deal is moving forward, beyond those "sources say" stage.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports broke the news Thursday afternoon that the Magic and Lakers were in talks for a trade involving, yes, Dwight Howard. We have been here before and we are going here again. Wojnarowski reports this rumor involves the Magic acquiring Pau Gasol and Arron Afflalo, the Lakers acquiring Dwight Howard and Al Harrington, the Nuggets acquiring Andre Iguodala and the 76ers acquiring Andrew Bynum.
Obviously, there are a lot of moving pieces since four teams are involved in this deal. The only reported parts of these talks are the major pieces and not everyone is certain whether Pau Gasol will end up included in the deal. Several reports Thursday night are suggesting that Gasol may not be included in these four-team discussions. There are also reports that Jason Richardson will end up in Philadelphia and rookie Moe Harkless will be in Orlando.
So break down what we know (for super sure, at least):
The Lakers will receive Dwight Howard. Howard had pretty much told the world that he will only sign with the Nets or the Lakers after the 2013 season. That severely limited Orlando's trade partners and what the team could do. Inevitably, the Lakers were going to be where Howard ended up. He has enough leverage left -- and Dan Fegan is a superb agent -- to get what he wants. So he will.
Orlando, for its part, has been holding out for a package of picks that resembles what Denver got for Carmelo Anthony. The Magic want young players and draft picks. They also want to part ways with several bad contracts -- including Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Chris Duhon. Orlando is asking for a lot and it appears certain that it will not get everything it wants.
This four-team deal that is reported done is a compromise of some of those values, or at least a recognition that the Magic may have put the bar a little too high. Orlando is not getting a lot of that stuff.
The Magic are set to receive Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Moe Harkless and a first round pick from each of the three teams.
Afflalo is the "centerpiece" if you can call him that. He averaged 15.2 points per game on 47.1 percent shooting last year. He is owed $31.2 million over the next four years with a player option on the final year. This is not particularly horrible for a player of Afflalo's caliber. He is about who he will be as a player. He is not an elite creator off the dribble, but he can score on his own and hit 3-pointers. Not the centerpiece for a new era, but not a bad player to have. The contract is reasonable and you can live with it.
Harrington is a long-time NBA veteran who is a stretch-4. He does not have nearly the athleticism he used to have, but is still valuable off the bench as a 3-point shooter, if not anything else. He also can post up smaller players. Last year, he averaged 14.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game last season, posting a very strong 15.3 PER. You just do not know if Harrington still has much more in him. His last few years have been inconsistent, but he has averaged more than 10.0 points per game every year since 2002. So he can score. But that is his big thing.
Harrington might be on a reasonable contract if he continues to produce at his current levels. He is owed $21.4 million the next three years, but the final two years of his deal are only partially guaranteed. Orlando, it seems, maintains some flexibility when it comes to Harrington's future.
The Magic also reportedly will get Moe Harkless. I wrote a profile of Harkless back at draft time. He has a lot of potential as a small forward or shooting guard and was a big-time scorer at St. John's as a freshman. He just needs a little bit more seasoning. He is on a rookie contract.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports also reports the Magic may receive Nikola Vucevic.
So let's break down what we know by team a bit further:
Orlando receives: Afflalo ($7.75M), Harrington ($6.69M), Harkless ($1.73M), Vucevic ($1.72M) = $17.89M
Orlando sends out: Howard ($19.54), Richardson ($5.4M) = $24.94M
Lakers receive: Howard ($19.54M) = $19.54M
Lakers send out: Bynum ($16.1M) = $16.1M
76ers receive: Bynum ($16.1M), Richardson ($5.4M) = $21.5M
76ers send out: Iguodala ($14.72M), Harkless ($1.73M), Vucevic ($1.72M) = $18.17M
Nuggets receive: Iguodala ($14.72M) = $14.72M
Nuggets send out: Afflalo ($7.75M), Harrington ($6.69M) = $14.44
UPDATE: After I posted this, Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported that the Magic will also send Chris Duhon and Earl Clark to the Lakers as part of the deal, sending out another $4.49 million from the Magic to the Lakers. The Lakers would receive $24.03 million in salary and so likely will have to send another player out as part of the deal. Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld reports the Magic will receive Christian Eyenga in the deal. It would not surprise me if Steve Blake or Darius Morris becomes involved in this deal somehow to make salaries work.
That is the way the deal is rumored to set up. There are several problems. First, as many express in their disappointment over the deal, the Magic do not get a "star." I would argue that is not the point.
The Magic want cap relief and to begin clearing the decks. Getting rid of the final three years of Jason Richardson's is a good step in that direction. Turkoglu can be bought out after next season. Duhon is also unguaranteed partially for 2014 too. So maybe it is not an awful thing that they are still around. They will be gone soon enough, it seems. The way this trade goes down determines how long the Magic will have to rebuild.
It seems Orlando is putting its eggs in really beginning the rebuilding process in 2014. Next season is a wash. The Magic look like they want high draft picks in 2013 and 2014 to build the team around. Orlando wants to be a good development and drafting team. This deal seems to suggest this is primarily how the Magic will build.
So sorry to say, the Magic are in for some rough years.
What makes it really rough is the Magic committed three years to Jameer Nelson, still have three years for Glen Davis. Orlando also now has 14 players under contract for next season.
What is Orlando thinking in this deal? The team is indeed bottoming out.
The Magic's draft picks the next two years will be incredibly valuable. When Orlando appears ready to start contending again, it may have the flexibility to do so with Nelson and Davis as expiring contracts.
And, who knows, the Magic may catch fire with another Heart & Hustle-style team in the short term. The long term? It is going to be banking on good drafting, cap flexibility in (at least) two years and some patience.