After months of rumors and speculation about where Dwight Howard would end up, the center, finally, seems to be on his way to Los Angeles.
Dwight Howard appears to be on his way to L.A., with Andrew Bynum going to Philadelphia.
Multiple reports indicate that the Lakers have agreed to acquire the big man in a four-team trade. The Nuggets and 76ers would be involved, along with the Magic. According to Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports, L.A would get Chris Duhon and Earl Clark, in addition to Howard.
Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala and Denver's Al Harrington and Aaron Afflalo would also move in the trade.
Howard joins an already talented Lakers team. While they have to send Bynum to Philadelphia in the deal, Los Angeles is able to hold onto Pau Gasol. They acquired Steve Nash earlier in the summer, and Kobe Bryant is still one of the top players in the league.
Does the trade make the Lakers the favorites to win the NBA title?
It certainly makes them the favorites in the Western Conference. According to Bovada, the online betting Web site, the team's odds of winning the NBA Finals are 3/1. The Howard deal helps them surpass the Oklahoma City Thunder, whose odds are set at 11/2 to win it all.
The Heat still lead the pack at 5/2, but that doesn't mean they're still the best team in the league.
While Miami can boast a "Big Three," Los Angeles now has four potential superstars. No other team in the NBA can make that claim. Howard, Bryant and Nash all made the All-Star team last year, and Gasol made the team the previous three years.
The Lakers can also boast a dominant frontcourt and backcourt, something the Heat are without. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are great wing players, but they don't have an above average point guard. Chris Bosh is one of the best big men in the Eastern Conference, but they are lacking at center.
The duo of Nash and Bryant might be the best point guard-shooting guard combination in the league. Bryant has never played with a dominant player at the point, and the addition of Nash might make him even more dangerous.
Bynum is a top center, but Howard is the best in the NBA. Gasol struggled at times in the lockout-shortened season, but he's still one of the best big men in the game.
Los Angeles might be a deeper team, too. They were able to make some key free agent signings, including Antawn Jamison and Jordan Hill. They still have Metta World Peace under contract, as well.
The biggest question surrounding the Lakers might be their age.
Bryant and Nash are still top performers, but they are heading towards the end of their careers. Both have played 16 years in the league, and aren't as dominant as they once were.
Gasol is only 32 years old, but he had one of his worst seasons in 2011-2012. He averaged a career low 17.4 point per game, and virtually disappeared in the playoffs.
Youth isn't Miami's only advantage. Among both of the team's stars, the Heat have the best one of all.
James has proved over and over again that he is the best player in the NBA. If the two clubs eventually meet up in the Finals, L.A. will have a tough time stopping him.
Bryant was once the most dominant player in the game, but he is no longer the player that he was a few years ago.
The deal has yet to be finalized and the season is still a few months away, but anticipation surrounding the upcoming Lakers season is building. After two early playoff exits, L.A. has put themselves in prime position to compete for another championship.
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